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Development and evaluation of an improved TFM formulation for use in feeder stream treatments

May 31, 2020

The binational Great Lakes Fishery Commission sponsored Sea Lamprey Control Program effectively utilizes a variety of lampricide tools to keep populations of parasitic sea lampreys in the Great Lakes at levels that do not cause undue economic or ecological damage. The most widely used toxicant used in lampricide formulations is 3-trifluoromethyl-4-nitrophenol (TFM). In typical treatments, a liquid TFM formulation is applied to lamprey producing streams continuously for 10–14 hours to produce a moving block of lampricide-treated water that kills larval lamprey before they metamorphose into their parasitic lifestage. In many smaller tributaries of dendritic streams a solid bar formulation of TFM is used to supplement the mainstem treatment block. These supplemental TFM bar applications are coordinated with the arrival of the mainstem lampricide to prevent larval sea lamprey from seeking refuge in untreated waters and surviving the treatment. TFM bars are produced from formulated surfactants and designed to release TFM over an 8–10-hour period, depending on water temperature and velocity. However, some of the surfactants have been discontinued resulting in the reformulation of the TFM bars multiple times. As a result of these reformulations, TFM bar performance has declined.

An experimental surfactant-free solid TFM tablet formulation was developed as a potential replacement for TFM bars. Release of TFM from the experimental tablets was evaluated using replicated laboratory dissolution trials conducted at three water temperatures and three water velocities. A continuous-flow laboratory flume was used for the dissolution trials and the decay of the tablets was modeled using logistic decay curves. Time required for the TFM tablet to decay 50 and 99% were compared among the groups using a two-way analysis of variance. Post-hoc Tukey Honest Significant Difference tests indicated that both water temperature and water velocity influenced the decay of the tablet; however, neither water temperature or water velocity appeared to dramatically influence TFM release. Results from this laboratory study indicate that the next stage of evaluating the TFM tablets using field tests is warranted.