Challenges and Successes in Controlling Invasive European Frog Bite

EGLE Aquatic Biologist Tom Alwin Removes European Frog Bit From Pentwater River State Game Area(As part of Aquatic Invasive Species Awareness WeekMI Environment features a European frog bite story by Sarah LeSage and Kevin Walters, of Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy’s Water Resources Division, of the Great Lakes State report

European frog bit, an invasive aquatic plant on Michigan’s Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Watch List, spreads along Great Lakes shorelines, connecting canals and backwaters. Recent detections in Michigan include the lower Lincoln River in Mason County in 2021 and the Lower Grand River in Ottawa County and Pentwater Lake in Oceana County in 2019. In 2021, a European frog bit was also found in Wisconsin for the first time, growing in an unspecified area. said stream and through adjacent drainage ditches on the west coast of Green Bay.

The European frog bit was first discovered in southeastern Michigan in 1996 and has since spread along the coastal regions of the Erie and Huron Lakes as far as the eastern Upper Peninsula (UP), and now, recently, in multiple locations along LakeMichigan.

European frog bit can form dense mats on the surface of slow-moving waters such as bayous, backwaters and wetlands. These mats can impede shipping traffic and alter food and habitat for ducks and fish. Because the European frog bit is quite buoyant, it can easily spread or be transported to new locations. European frog bit also produces seeds and other seed-like structures called turions, which can remain dormant for several seasons.

Addressing the westward spread of the European frog bit is challenging because of how easily it can be spread through different human pathways. As with other AIS, humans play an important role in preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species in the Great Lakes region. Human activities such as boating, hunting waterfowl and fishing can inadvertently spread the invasive plant, as plant parts can attach to boats, trailers and equipment.

Many of the waters where the European frog bit is found are popular destinations for fishing, hunting and aquatic recreation, meaning there is great potential for spreading the European frog bit from these locations to other areas. Since some of the most recent sites where European frogbits are found also have direct hydrological connections to the Great Lakes, dispersal through the natural movement of water is also a concern.

Fortunately, there are some simple steps boaters, fishermen and waterfowl hunters can take to help prevent the spread of European frogbit and other AIS. Signage, printing and outreach campaigns such as billboards help to spread the word to ‘clean, deflate and dry’ all boats, trailers and other equipment before being used in another body of water. Person-to-person messaging at boating entry sites through the growth of Michigan’s AIS Landing Blitz from a statewide event to a regional partnership also aims to change the behavior of boaters and prevent the introduction and spread of many invasive aquatic species , including European frog bit.

Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) employees and partners jointly plan and undertake annual state research and response efforts for European frog bites along coastal Great Lakes and inland waterways. The Upper Peninsula Resource Conservation and Development Council and all five UP Cooperative Invasive Species Management Areas (CISMAs) are collaborating to survey high-risk areas across the UP and monitor known populations in the eastern UP. partners are conducting surveys on the lower peninsula and are using herbicides and hand pulling to prevent further spread. The Nature Conservancy, in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the University of Toledo, the Great Lakes Commission, Wayne State University, and the states of the Great Lakes, has developed an early detection framework and created an interactive tool that determines the risk of high-risk species invading coastal locations in the Great Lakes basin. This tool is used to identify locations for monitoring and will be extended to inland waterways.

Research is also underway on the European frog bit to improve our understanding of this species and inform control efforts. Lake Superior State University, Central Michigan University, Michigan Natural Features Inventory, Loyola University and Boise State University, in collaboration with EGLE, CISMAs and other partners, are conducting projects to measure the effectiveness of various control methods. They evaluate the effects of the European frogbit on native plants and animals and on water quality, investigate new detection methods, develop habitat suitability and risk models and understand the life history of the European frogbit.

Working together outreach, surveillance, control and research efforts are essential to address the challenges posed by European frogbit and other invasive aquatic species.

To learn more about European frog bit and other invasive species, visit Michigan’s Invasive Species website

caption: EGLE’s Tom Alwin removes European frogbit from an impoundment area, where it formed dense mats.

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