The implementation of a sterile-male-release technique from 1991 through 1999 and evaluation of its effectiveness in the Great Lakes sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus) management program is reviewed. Male sea lampreys were injected with the chemosterilant bisazir (P,P-bis(1-aziridinyl)-N- methylphosphinothioic amide) using a robotic device. Quality assurance testing indicated the device delivered a consistent and effective dose of bisazir. Viability of embryos in an untreated control group was 64% compared to 1% in a treatment group. A task force developed nine hypotheses to guide implementation and evaluation of the technique. An annual average of 26,000 male sea lampreys was harvested from as many as 17 Great Lakes tributaries for use in the technique. An annual average of 16,100 sterilized males was released into 33 tributaries of Lake Superior to achieve a theoretical 59% reduction in larval production during 1991 to 1996. The average number of sterile males released in the St. Marys River increased from 4,000 during 1991 to 1996 to 20,100 during 1997 to 1999. The theoretical reduction in reproduction when combined with trapping was 57% during 1991 to 1996 and 86% during 1997 to 1999. Evaluation studies demonstrated that sterilized males were competitive and reduced production of larvae in streams. Field studies and simulation models suggest reductions in reproduction will result in fewer recruits, but there is risk of periodic high recruitment events independent of sterile-male release. Strategies to reduce reproduction will be most reliable when low densities of reproducing females are achieved. Expansion of the technique is limited by access to additional males for sterilization. Sterile-male release and other alternative controls are important in delivering integrated pest management and in reducing reliance on pesticides.
Additional publication details
The sterile-male-release technique in Great Lakes sea lamprey management