The parasitic sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus) has been a serious pest since its introduction into the Great Lakes, where it contributed to severe imbalances in the fish communities by selectively removing large predators (Smith 1968; Christie 1974; Schneider et al.1996). Since the 1950s, restoration and maintenance of predator-prey balance has depended on the Great Lakes Fishery Commission (GLFC) sea lamprey management program. Initially, management relied primarily on stream treatments with a selective lampricide to kill larvae, on barriers to migration, and on trapping to remove potential spawners (Smith and Tibbles 1980). By the late 1970s, however, it was clear that the future of sea lamprey management lay in development of a larger array of control strategies, including more alternatives to lampricide applications (Sawyer 1980).
Since then the only new alternative to chemical control to reach operational status is the release of sterilized male sea lampreys. Research on the concept began at the USGS, Hammond Bay Biological Station in Millersburg, MI (HBBS) during the 1970s (Hanson and Manion 1980). Development and evaluation continued through the 1980s, leading to the release of sterilized males in Great Lakes tributaries since 1991 (Twohey et al. 2003a). The objectives of this paper are 1) to review the implementation and evaluations of sterile-male-release technique (SMRT) as it is being applied against sea lampreys in the Great Lakes, 2) to review our current understanding of its efficacy, and 3) to identify additional research areas and topics that would increase either the efficacy of SMRT or expand its geographic potential for application.
Additional publication details
The sterile-male-release technique in Great Lakes sea lamprey management
Sea Lamprey Research Program, Great Lakes Fishery Commission