Published: Oct. 2, 2012

MSU earns EPA grants to fight high-risk invasive species

Contact(s): Tom Oswald Media Communications office: (517) 432-0920 cell: (517) 281-7129, Michael Wagner Fisheries and Wildlife office: (517) 353-5485, Syed Hashsham Civil and Environmental Engineering office: (517) 355-8241

Michigan State University has received nearly $1 million in grants from the Environmental Protection Agency, funds that will be used to keep invasive species from entering the Great Lakes basin.

One grant, totaling about $600,000 will be used to develop a hand-held, genetic analysis tool to monitor the lakes for invasive species.

Syed Hashsham, a professor of civil and environmental engineering, leads the team that will create an analysis tool to monitor the lakes for invasive species such as hydrilla, golden mussel, northern snakehead, killer shrimp, and Ponto-Caspian water fleas.

“This project will perform the laboratory and fieldwork necessary to develop a portable environmental DNA-based detection device to detect high-risk aquatic invasive species of concern in the Great Lakes basin,” Hashsham said.

The other grant, totaling more than $392,000, will be used to test the effectiveness of a chemical repellant to prevent sea lamprey from entering rivers by creating chemical “dams” that are only visible to lampreys.

“This new approach has the capacity to radically improve the efficiency of the sea lamprey pesticide control program without increasing the amount of pesticide applied to the Great Lakes, a real win-win,” said Michael Wagner, assistant professor of fisheries and wildlife who is directing that project.

The two grants are part of the EPA’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. MSU’s grants are among 21 being awarded by the agency, totaling nearly $8 million, which will fund projects to combat invasive species in the Great Lakes basin.

During the last three years, the GLRI has provided $172 million for the prevention, detection and control of invasive species in the Great Lakes ecosystem. About $80 million of this GLRI funding is being used to support the interagency Asian Carp Control Strategy Framework.

Invasive aquatic animal species compete with or prey upon native species and damage habitat. Non-native terrestrial and aquatic plant species can force out native plants and take over large areas of habitat, making the Great Lakes ecosystem less diverse and less resilient.

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