The detrimental impacts of nonnative lake trout Salvelinus namaycush in the western USA have prompted natural resource management agencies in several states to implement lake trout suppression programs. Currently, these programs rely on mechanical removal methods (i.e., gill nets, trap nets, and angling) to capture subadult and adult lake trout. We conducted a study to explore the potential for using high-intensity sound from a relatively small (655.5 cm3 [40 in3]) seismic air gun to reduce survival of lake trout embryos. Lake trout embryos at multiple stages of development were exposed to a single discharge of the seismic air gun at two depths (5 and 15 m) and at two distances from the air gun (0.1 and 2.7 m). Control groups for each developmental stage, distance, and depth were treated identically except that the air gun was not discharged. Mortality in lake trout embryos treated at 0.1 m from the air gun was 100% at 74 daily temperature units in degrees Celsius (TU°C) at both depths. Median mortality in lake trout embryos treated at 0.1 m from the air gun at 207 TU°C (93%) and 267 °C (78%) appeared to be higher than that of controls (49% and 48%, respectively) at 15-m depth. Among the four lake trout developmental stages, exposure to the air gun at 0.1 m resulted in acute mortality up to 60% greater than that of controls. Mortality at a distance of 2.7 m did not appear to differ from that of controls at any developmental stage or at either depth. Our results indicate that seismic air guns have potential as an alternative tool for controlling nonnative lake trout, but further investigation is warranted.
Additional publication details
Use of a seismic air gun to reduce survival of nonnative lake trout embryos: A tool for conservation?