Warmer waters increase the larval sea lamprey's (Petromyzon marinus) tolerance to the lampricide 3-trifluoromethyl-4-nitrophenol (TFM).
Invasive sea lampreys (Petromyzon marinus) in the Great Lakes are controlled by applying the pesticide (lampricide) 3-trifluoromethyl-4-nitrophenol (TFM) to waters infested with larval lamprey. However, treatment effectiveness can be undermined by "residual" larval sea lamprey that survive TFM exposure, and subsequently complete metamorphosis into parasitic juvenile sea lamprey that prey on culturally and economically important fishes. We investigated how season and temperature influenced the TFM tolerance of larval sea lamprey. Acute toxicity tests on lamprey collected from the Au Sable River, Michigan, revealed that the 12-h LC50 and LC99.9 were 2.0- to 2.5-fold greater in late spring and summer, than in early spring and fall. Subsequent toxicity tests indicated that greater TFM tolerance in summer was due to warmer temperatures, based on an almost 2-fold greater 12-h LC50 and LC99.9 in warm (24°C) compared to cool (6°C) water. Variations in energy stores (glycogen, lipid, protein) or condition did not appear to affect TFM sensitivity. We conclude that higher water temperature is the primary factor driving the larval sea lamprey's greater tolerance to TFM during the summer, possibly due to an increase in their capacity to detoxify TFM. Considering seasonal variations in temperature may be prudent when selecting and treating sea lamprey infested streams with TFM to minimize treatment residuals. In the longer term, increases in average and peak water temperatures due to climate change could result in greater TFM requirements and costs due to the greater tolerance of larval sea lamprey to TFM at warmer temperatures.