A grand total of 57 fish biologists from over 10 organizations participated in the event. They sampled 34 freshwater sites to detect non-native fish. Events like these help connect research institutions, museums and universities, with federal, state, and local governments with expertise and equipment to help catch non-native fish.
Patricia Torres-Pineda, Ph.D. Student, and Randy Singer, Ph.D., Collection Manager for the Division of Fishes and Assistant Research Scientist, were able to participate in this three-day event helping collect twenty non-native species. Singer explained the special way they get specimens back to the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology (UMMZ) and the role biologists like Torres-Pineda and Singer play.
“We participated in collecting the fish, and then along with other museum folks, we selected specimens for accession into the museum. We made sure to take tissue samples before preserving the specimens,” said Singer. “We had a unique way of returning them to Michigan: we mailed them to ourselves soaked in wet cheesecloth, inside sealed bags, and placed in a large liquid-tight container. Our main goal for what types of fishes we collected was to focus on cataloging as many species as possible to have records in the museum that reflect what is found there, with an emphasis on larger specimens which many museums do not have the space for, but we do at UMMZ.”
This was Torres-Pindea’s first time attending the Fish Slam event, and she was eager to join in. “I used hook and lines for the first day of the Fish Slam,” said Torres-Pindea. “On the second day, I joined the StayHumble shock boat team for my first-time shock boat experience!”
While the shock boat experience was electrifying, Torres-Pindea also participated in collecting fish and processing specimens. “I processed a representative sample of every species collected throughout the event for fish tissues for genetics that can be used in the future to assess the genetic structure of invasive populations and other projects. The sampling consists in taking a very small section of muscular tissue or fin from the specimen and stored in Ethanol or RNALater.”
“These specimens are extremely important for research but also for education and outreach of state and federal agencies that regulate invasive species,” said Singer. “Additionally, these trips provide students with intensive hands-on field experiences and allow them to be involved in all aspects of museum work from field to database! This helps to create good relationships with policymakers and regulatory agencies to help to model current and future invasions of fishes and to help contribute to helping to protect native wildlife.”