The extent to which native fish communities might control the success of invasive fish has been of interest to ecologists, but it has been rarely addressed using experiments. We conducted an experiment in six small lakes in the Upper Mississippi Region to test the effects of a small native predator, bluegill sunfish (Lepomis macrochirus) on the recruitment of a large, invasive fish, the common carp (Cyprinus carpio). Bluegills are predominant throughout the region and were previously shown to consume carp eggs and larvae. We stocked both lakes at each of our 3 sites with adult carp (spawners) and one lake at each site with bluegills. We repeated the experiment at two of the three sites for two consecutive years. In each lake we assessed the abundance of post-larval carp one month after spawning (backpack electrofishing surveys) and at the end of the season (mark-recapture). For each site/year combination, catch rate of post-larval carp was typically an order of magnitude higher in control than bluegill lakes, but it often declined quickly over time. The abundance of end-of-seasonal juveniles was significantly higher (no 95% CI overlap) in control lakes than in bluegill lakes, except for one pair of lakes during one year when both the control and bluegill lake had similar, low abundance of end-of-season carp. Overall, our results support the hypothesis that common carp recruitment is substantially reduced in habitats dominated by bluegills. We also suggest our results may be applicable to other species, and that managers should explore how predation on early life stages may control other invasive species.
PubMed: MeSH publication types
- Journal Article
- Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't