Male sea lampreys (Petromyzon marinus), sterilized by injection with bisazir, were released in Lake Superior tributaries from 1991 to 1996 and exclusively in the St. Marys River (the outflow from Lake Superior to Lake Huron) since 1997 as an alternative to chemical control. To determine effectiveness in reducing reproductive potential through the time of hatch, males were observed on nests and egg viability was determined in nests in selected Lake Superior tributaries and the St. Marys River. The proportions of sterilized males observed on nests were not significantly different than their estimated proportion in the population for all streams and years combined or for the St. Marys River alone. It was concluded that sterilized males survive, appear on the spawning grounds, and nest at near their estimated proportion in the population. There was a significant reduction in egg viability corresponding with release of sterilized males for all streams and years combined or for the St. Marys River alone. In the St. Marys River from 1993 to 2000, the percent reduction in egg viability was significantly correlated with the observed proportion of sterile males on nests. It was further concluded that sterilized males remain sterile through nesting and attract and mate with females. Reduction in reproductive potential in the St. Marys River due to both removal of females by traps and sterile-male-release ranged from 34 to 92% from 1993 to 2001 and averaged 64%. From 1999 to 2001, when the program stabilized, reductions ranged from 71 to 92% and averaged 81%. The current release of sterile males in the St. Marys River effectively reduced reproductive potential through the time of hatch and did so near theoretical levels based on numbers released, estimates of population size, and the assumptions of full sterility and competitiveness.
Additional publication details
Reduction in sea lamprey hatching success due to release of sterilized males