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MSU Researchers Developing Technology To Take Action Against Invasive Sea Lampreys

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Multiple teams of Michigan State University researchers are figuring out ways to harness sea lampreys' instincts to monitor, capture and control them.

Researchers at Michigan State University are developing technology to take action against invasive sea lampreys.

Sea lampreys have been a destructive force for Michigan's native fish populations.

Their instinct is to attach to fish and suck to feed off their blood. So, MSU researchers are looking at different ways to combat them.

The research is devoted to finding ways to track and deter the invasive species.

Their work includes finding a way to disrupt their chemical signals, using their alarm cue odor combined with a passive barrier for capturing, and the development of sensing panels to record pressure emitted from the sea lamprey when attached.

One researcher involved in developing the sensing panel is Xiaobo Tan. He says once the lampreys attach to the smart panels, it can lead to different surveillance efforts like mechanisms for deterrence.

“So the idea is if you can put smart panels at strategically chosen locations, when they suck you will be able to tell ‘okay here is a lamprey or sea lamprey’ and then you can take action from there.”

The smart panel is able to detect and record the pressure emitted from the sea lamprey when attached.

“I don’t think people are hoping to eradicate sea lampreys, but to keep them under check. That’s the important goal,” Tan says.

The Great Lakes Fishery Commission is funding the research.

McKoy's story is brought to you as part of a partnership between WKAR and Michigan State University's Knight Center for Environmental Journalism.

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