College students show how they're fighting back against invasive species in Great Lakes

College students show how they're fighting back against invasive species in Great Lakes

DETROIT, MI (WTOL) - If you like to fish or enjoy Lake Erie, you want walleye and perch to be healthy. But invasive species are a constant threat.

There is a beautiful view on the Detroit River, with Windsor, Canada on the other side. But what's swimming under the surface could be dangerous to nearby Lake Erie.

In Detroit, local college students are showing how they are fighting back.

Inside Cobo Center, a thousand people were at a water quality conference on Wednesday, learning valuable information from researchers on how to protect our greatest natural resource.

Matt Snyder a student from The University of Toledo, presented his findings on invasive species.

He used water samples, DNA, and genetic analysis to determine what species are in the water and if "uninvited" ones could compete for the food and ruin the habitat. His goal is early detection.

"Asian carps, if they did establish in Lake Erie, they would probably just explode in population numbers. And because they're eating at the base of them food chain, it would drastically affect the whole food web in the Great Lakes or all of the food webs," Snyder said.

Hannah Scheppler, a recent Bowling Green State University graduate, works in the same lab with UT Ecology professor Carol Stepien. Scheppler is studying bait shops along Lake Erie to figure out what is being sold to fishermen and if any of it is unwanted and potentially damaging.

"So we found, generally, that a third to half of the shops actually had bait species in their tanks that they weren't advertising. And a few shops sold goldfish which is an invasive species," Scheppler said.

When she publishes her findings, she hopes bait shops will change their ways.

UT has $12.5 million in active gr ants right now for water quality research, so there is a lot to share at the annual conference of the International Association of Great Lakes Research, which continues through Friday.

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