eDNA Invasive Species Monitoring in Michigan Watersheds – Dr. Karmen Hollis-Etter

Graduate Student – Amberly Hauger

Feral swine are classified as an invasive species in MI (http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,4570,7-153-10370_12145_55230---,00.html).  Invasive feral swine, can harm plant and animal populations, disrupt natural ecosystems, and transmit diseases to livestock, pets, and humans (Hunter 2012).  eDNA has successfully detected invasive Burmese pythons in southern Florida waterways (Piaggio et al. 2014) and the Great Lakes are regularly monitored for invasive silver and bighead (Asian) carp (Jerde et al. 2011).  Environmental DNA (eDNA) will be investigated to provide an alternative surveillance method for species such as feral swine at low densities in MI.  The project is a multi-agency collaboration among UM-Flint, MSU, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, National Wildlife Research Center, and CMU.

Contact Rates for Rural and Suburban White-Tailed Deer – Dr. Karmen Hollis-Etter
Graduate Student Audrianna Earegood-McCarty

Undergraduate Students – Kathleen Berta and Desiree Gillespie

Seventy-five percent of all emerging and reemerging diseases that threaten human health are zoonotic (Field 2009).  Wild deer populations have direct contact with the environment and are considered a pathogenic species because of their wide distribution, abundance, and sedentary behavior (Trainer and Hanson, 1969).  A single moment of proximity and/or direct contact of two hosts does not always indicate disease transmission. However, the probability of disease transmission logically increases as the frequency of contact increases (Schauber et al. 2007).  We will identify rural and suburban deer social groups, variation in contact rates, and relate potential risk of disease transmission. ~ Suburban Deer, Chicago, IL.  Photo by D. Etter


Feral Swine Research - led by Dr. Karmen Hollis-Etter

UM-Flint is conducting research and assisting with the capture of invasive feral swine in Michigan.  The feral swine are trapped and anesthetized before being fitted with GPS tracking harnesses.  Feral swine are monitored to examine travel routes, bedding sites and habitat use across the landscape and tested for zoonotic diseases. Information gained from this research project will be used to inform management strategies to remove invasive feral swine from Michigan.  The project is a multi-agency collaboration among UM-Flint, MSU, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, and USDA-Wildlife Services.

Below is the link to a great write up/blog by our CoPI PhD Student on the Feral Swine Project. He tells a great story of our crazy adventures. Enjoy!