Control programs are implemented to mitigate the damage caused by invasive species worldwide. In the highly invaded Great Lakes, the climate is expected to become warmer with more extreme weather and variable precipitation, resulting in shorter iced-over periods and variable tributary flows as well as changes to pH and river hydrology and hydrogeomorphology. We review how climate change influences physiology, behavior, and demography of a damaging invasive species, sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus), in the Great Lakes, and the consequences for sea lamprey control efforts. Sea lamprey control relies on surveys to monitor abundance of larval sea lamprey in Great Lakes tributaries. The abundance of parasitic, juvenile sea lampreys in the lakes is calculated by surveying wounding rates on lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush), and trap surveys are used to enumerate adult spawning runs. Chemical control using lampricides (i.e., lamprey pesticides) to target larval sea lamprey and barriers to prevent adult lamprey from reaching spawning grounds are the most important tools used for sea lamprey population control. We describe how climate change could affect larval survival in rivers, growth and maturation in lakes, phenology and the spawning migration as adults return to rivers, and the overall abundance and distribution of sea lamprey in the Great Lakes. Our review suggests that Great Lakes sea lamprey may benefit from climate change with longer growing seasons, more rapid growth, and greater access to spawning habitat, but uncertainties remain about the future availability and suitability of larval habitats. Consideration of the biology of invasive species and adaptation of the timing, intensity, and frequency of control efforts is critical to the management of biological invasions in a changing world, such as sea lamprey in the Great Lakes.

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Global Change Biology
Department of Biology

Lennox, R.J. (Robert J.), Bravener, G.A. (Gale A.), Lin, H.-Y. (Hsien-Yung), Madenjian, C.P. (Charles P.), Muir, A.M. (Andrew M.), Remucal, C.K. (Christina K.), … Cooke, S.J. (2019). Potential changes to the biology and challenges to the management of invasive sea lamprey Petromyzon marinus in the Laurentian Great Lakes due to climate change. Global Change Biology. doi:10.1111/gcb.14957