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Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center

Aquatic Invasive Species Control

Evaluation of 3-trifluoromethyl-4-nitrophenol (TFM) Residues in Sediment, Water, and Invertebrates Following a Lampricide Treatment as a Risk Assessment to the Endangered Piping Plover

Principal Investigator: Mike Boogaard

Impact of UMESC Science

The results of this research will allow treatment managers to maintain treatment effectiveness in controlling sea lamprey populations while minimizing the impact to non-target species of concern.  Use of lampricides to control lamprey populations in the Great Lakes is critical to sustaining the Great Lakes fishery industry.


The lampricide 3-trifluoromethyl-4-nitrophenol (TFM) has been used successfully for more than 40 years in the Great Lakes Fishery Commission’s Integrated Pest Management of Sea Lamprey Control Program to selectively kill sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus) larvae in streams and rivers tributary to the Great Lakes. The mode of action of TFM has not been completely delineated, but the selective toxicity of the material apparently results from the larvae’s inability to conjugate and eliminate it (Lech and Statham 1975, Statham and Lech 1975, Wilkie et al. 2007). TFM is sold under the commercial name Lamprecid®, a formulation of the sodium salt of TFM which is approximately 35% active ingredient by weight.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) holds the label registrations for TFM in the United States and Canada.

Concerns regarding the impact of lampricide treatments on nontarget fauna have been expressed by several federal, state, tribal, and private agencies that have a vested interest in the health of the Great Lakes ecosystem.  Of particular concern is the piping plover (Charadrius melodus), a migratory shorebird listed as endangered in 1985 by FWS (Federal Register 1985). In addition to the endangered listing, the FWS issued a critical habitat designation in 2001 for the Great Lakes breeding population of the piping plover (Federal Register 2001).

Piping plovers feed primarily on exposed beach substrates by pecking one centimeter or less below the surface (Cairns 1977, Whyte 1985). Their diet consists of invertebrates including insects, worms, crustaceans, and mollusks (Haig 1992). Fecal analysis of Atlantic coast piping plover droppings showed a predominance of insects from the families Staphylinidae, and Curculionidae and the order Diptera although many other species were represented (Shaffer and Laporte 1994). Areas used by piping plovers for foraging include wet sand in the wash zone, inter-tidal ocean beach, wrack lines, washover passes, mud, sand and algal flats, shorelines of streams, ephemeral ponds, lagoons, and salt marshes (Powell 1991, Hoopes et al. 1992, Loegering 1992, Zonick et al. 1998). Wildlife managers are concerned that piping plovers may be vulnerable to lampricide exposure through the consumption of TFM residue in aquatic invertebrates from treated streams.


  1. Determine the concentrations of TFM in samples of water, sediment, and invertebrates collected from the mouth and from the littoral zone near the mouth of the Little Two Hearted River during and following a lampricide treatment.
  2. Demonstrate the effect of time on the dissipation of TFM residues in water, sediment, and invertebrates.
  3. Provide data on lampricide residues in water, sediment, and invertebrates to support risk assessments to the piping plover and other non-target species of concern.


Cairns, W.E.  1977.  Breeding biology and behavior of the piping plover (Charadrius melodus) in southern Nova Scotia.  M.S. Thesis, Dalhousie Univ., Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Federal Register. 1985. Endangered and threatened wildlife and plants; determination of endangered and threatened status for the Piping Plover; final rule. 50FR(238):50720-34.

Federal Register.  2001.  Final Determination of critical habitat for the Great Lakes breeding population of the piping plover.  66 FR(88):22938-69.

Haig, S. M. 1992. Piping plover. Pages 1-18 in: The birds of North America, No. 2 A.
Poole, P. Stettenheim, F. Gill, editors. American Ornithologists' Union, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Hoopes, E. M., C. R. Griffen, and S. M. Melvin. 1992. Relationships between human recreation and piping plover foraging ecology and chick survival. Unpublished       report.  Located at: the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. 77 pp.

Lech, J. J. And C. N. Statham.  1975.  Role of glucuronide formation in the selective toxicity of 3-Trifluoromethyl-4-nitrophenol (TFM) for the sea lamprey: Comparative Aspects of TFM Uptake and Conjugation in Sea Lamprey and Rainbow trout.  Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology.  31:150-158.

Loegering, J. P. 1992. Piping plover breeding biology, foraging ecology, and behavior on Assateague Island National Seashore, Maryland. M.S. thesis. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg. 247 pp.

Powell, A. N. 1991. Great Lakes piping plover: recovery or extirpation? Endangered Species Update 8:1-4.

Shaffer, F. and P. Laporte. 1994. Diet of piping plovers on the Magdalen Islands, Quebec.  Wilson Bulletin 106(3):531-536.

Statham, C.N. and J.J. Lech.  1975.  Metabolism of 2’, 5-dichloro-4’-nitrosalicylanilide (Bayer 73) in rainbow trout (Salmo gairdneri). Journal  Fish. Res. Board Can. 32:515-522.

Whyte, A. J. 1985. Breeding ecology of the piping plover in central Saskatchewan. M.S. Thesis. University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada. 153 pp.

Wilkie, M.P., J.A. Holmes, and J.H. Youson. 2007. The lampricide, 3-trifluoromethyl-4-nitrophenol (TFM) interferes with intermediary metabolism and glucose homeostasis, but not ion balance in larval lampreys (Petromyzon marinus). Canadian Journal of Fisheries & Aquatic Sciences 64:1174-1182.

Zonick, C., K. L. Drake, K. R. Drake, L. Elliot, and J. Thompson. 1998. The effects of dredged material on the ecology of the piping plover and the snowy plover. A report to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Galveston, Texas. 147 pp.

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