Invasive Species of Shrimp in four Great Lakes

November 29, 2011

Is this critter good or bad?

Pesky shrimp may prove a food source

By Elliot Ferguson The Whig-Standard

An invading species of shrimp may offer a new food source for fish in the Great Lakes, a report from a team of Queen’s University researchers states.

First discovered in Lake Michigan in 2006, Hemimysis anomala, more commonly known as the bloody red shrimp, has been found in all of the Great Lakes except Lake Superior.

The shrimp is native to the Black and Caspian seas, the same area from which the zebra mussel came. Like the zebra mussel, the bloody red shrimp likely arrived in ballast water dumped out of ocean-going ships.

But while zebra mussels brought almost nothing but trouble with them, the Queen’s research team determined several native fish species are feeding on the new red shrimp.

“We’re not exactly sure about the impact yet,” said Queen’s biology graduate student Mike Yuille, the lead author of a study that is to be published in the Journal of Great Lakes Research.

“It’s a very different organism than zebra mussels.”

The research was a collaboration between Yuille, Queen’s associate professors Shelley Arnott and Linda Campbell and Timothy Johnson at the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources Glenora Fisheries Station in Picton.

The ministry took samples at 19 sites along the north shore of Lake Ontario.

The populations of bloody red shrimp are higher in the western end and lower in the eastern end of Lake Ontario, Yuille said.

The shrimp tend to favour habitat with structures such as docks and piers or port areas, which are more common in the west end of the lake, Yuille said. The shrimp are also common in the St. Lawrence Seaway near Montreal, he added.

The Queen’s researchers focused on four of the ministry sites, collecting extensive samples of water, plants, insects and fish.

The team looked at the stomach contents of three potential predators, including round goby, yellow perch and alewife, for signs of the shrimp.

In addition, the team looked at the carbon and nitrogen levels of the fish muscle tissues, which would indicate whether they are eating the shrimp.

The team’s research showed that in areas with dense populations of red shrimp, the fish are eating them.

Yuille said the research is being conducted to investigate if the bloody red shrimp has an effect on the growth of fish in the Great Lakes.


2 Responses to “Invasive Species of Shrimp in four Great Lakes”

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