Temperature, recreational fishing and diapause egg connections: Dispersal of spiny water fleas (Bythotrephes longimanus)

Document Type


Publication Date



The spiny water flea (Bythotrephes longimanus) is spreading from Great Lakes coastal waters into northern inland lakes within a northern temperature-defined latitudinal band. Colonization of Great Lakes coastal embayments is assisted by winds and seiche surges, yet rapid inland expansion across the northern states comes through an overland process. The lack of invasions at Isle Royale National Park contrasts with rapid expansion on the nearby Keweenaw Peninsula. Both regions have comparable geology, lake density, and fauna, but differ in recreational fishing boat access, visitation, and containment measures. Tail spines protect Bythotrephes against young of the year, but not larger fish, yet the unusual thick-shelled diapausing eggs can pass through fish guts in viable condition. Sediment traps illustrate how fish spread diapausing eggs across lakes in fecal pellets. Trillions of diapausing eggs are produced per year in Lake Michigan and billions per year in Lake Michigamme, a large inland lake. Dispersal by recreational fishing is linked to use of baitfish, diapausing eggs defecated into live wells and bait buckets, and Bythothephes snagged on fishing line, anchor ropes, and minnow seines. Relatively simple measures, such as on-site rinsing of live wells, restricting transfer of certain baitfish species, or holding baitfish for 24 h (defecation period), should greatly reduce dispersal. © 2011 The Author(s).

Publication Title

Biological Invasions