Alien Invaders Controlled by the Smell of Fear

Alien Invaders Controlled by the Smell of Fear

Since the 1980s, Eurasian ruffe fish have been the most abundant alien species collected from the bottom of the Duluth harbor. They’ve quickly spread their way far along Lake Superior’s shores.

Now researchers from Duluth’s University of Minnesota Sea Grant have released findings that could ultimately lead to the control of these aquatic vertebrates. Apparently, ruffe emit an alarm pheromone when they are injured that repels other ruffe. Pheromones are chemical signals that pass between organisms of the same species and are detected by an animal’s sense of smell. Fish use pheromones to coordinate activities, such as mating and schooling, in large bodies of water. Alarm pheromones signal the presence of potential danger. Learning to use this newly discovered smell of fear may finally give us a little control over these alien invaders.

For a free copy of the journal reprint, contact Minnesota Sea Grant at (218) 726-6191 or for item number JR 462.


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Images courtesy of Steven Huyser-Honig,
West Grand Boulevard Collaborative, & Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve.