High densities of invasive rusty crayfish on critical spawning reefs present a potential impediment to the recovery of native fish in the Laurentian Great Lakes. Suppression of rusty crayfish on spawning reefs to protect fall spawning native fishes in the Great Lakes is hampered by regular storm events and ambient weather conditions, limiting the number of practical days traps can be checked, cleared, and re-baited. The Gee minnow trap design is the most common gear for sampling and managing crayfish, yet design constraints of the standard Gee minnow trap manifest as tradeoffs between capture efficiency and retention for users. In this study, we compared catch rates from a semi-controlled field experiment and escapement probabilities from laboratory controlled trials for a Gee minnow trap, a modified Gee minnow trap with intention to reduce escapement, and an experimental flat-bottomed pyramid design which showed potential promise during prototype-stage development. Bayesian parameter estimation of generalized linear models applied to catch data suggested that standard Gee minnow traps performed at least as well and often better than both novel trap designs in catch rate and escapement probability. Escapement during laboratory controlled trials was high for all trap designs, demonstrating that retention of trapped individuals is a persistent problem for crayfish monitoring and management. We conclude from our data that standard Gee minnow traps are a sensible gear choice for monitoring and/or potential suppression efforts for invasive rusty crayfish on nearshore spawning reefs in the Great Lakes. However, modifications to its design to improve retention should yet be pursued.
|Journal||Management of Biological Invasions|
|State||Published - 2021|