In some parts of the Great Lakes the Eurasian ruffe, an accidentalimport, now makes up 80 percent of the fish, and might be crowding outalready-struggling native species. Now researchers at the University ofMinnesota believe they can use pheromones from the fish to reduce thespread of ruffe in the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’sChris Julin reports from Duluth:
In some parts of the Great Lakes the Eurasian ruffe, an accidental import,
now makes up 80-percent of the fish, and might be crowding out
already-struggling native species. Now researchers at the University of
Minnesota believe they can use pheromones from the fish to
reduce the spread of ruffe in the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes Radio
Consortium’s Chris Julin reports from Duluth.
Animals release pheromones to communicate with other members of their
species. Biologists found that Eurasian Ruffe release a particular
pheromone when they’re injured, or frightened.
“It’s the smell of fear as it were.”
Peter Sorenson is one of the University of Minnesota researchers who
identified the “alarm pheromone” in ruffe. He says it’s easy to extract the
chemical from the fishes’ skin, and then spread it in the water, telling
the fish, in essence to “keep away.”
“I’m not thinking of controlling them for the entire Lake Superior or
anything, but I’m thinking of keeping them out of dock areas in Duluth, or
if there’s a particular channel that they have to move through to spawn in
the spring, you might be able to keep them out of a few key areas.”
So far tests have been limited to the lab, but Sorenson hopes to work with
government agencies to try the technique in the Great Lakes.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, this is Chris Julin in Duluth.