Elements of the larval sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus) assessment program that most strongly influence the chemical treatment program were analyzed, including selection of streams for larval surveys, allocation of sampling effort among stream reaches, allocation of sampling effort among habitat types, estimation of daily growth rates, and estimation of metamorphosis rates, to determine how uncertainty in each element influenced the stream selection program. First, the stream selection model based on current larval assessment sampling protocol significantly underestimated transforming sea lamprey abundance, transforming sea lampreys killed, and marginal costs per sea lamprey killed, compared to a protocol that included more years of data (especially for large streams). Second, larval density in streams varied significantly with Type-I habitat area, but not with total area or reach length. Third, the ratio of larval density between Type-I and Type-II habitat varied significantly among streams, and that the optimal allocation of sampling effort varied with the proportion of habitat types and variability of larval density within each habitat. Fourth, mean length varied significantly among streams and years. Last, size at metamorphosis varied more among years than within or among regions and that metamorphosis varied significantly among streams within regions. Study results indicate that: (1) the stream selection model should be used to identify streams with potentially high residual populations of larval sea lampreys; (2) larval sampling in Type-II habitat should be initiated in all streams by increasing sampling in Type-II habitat to 50% of the sampling effort in Type-I habitat; and (3) methods should be investigated to reduce uncertainty in estimates of sea lamprey production, with emphasis on those that reduce the uncertainty associated with larval length at the end of the growing season and those used to predict metamorphosis.
Additional publication details
Optimizing larval assessment to support sea lamprey control in the Great Lakes