Case studies demonstrate that common carp can be sustainably reduced by exploiting source-sink dynamics in midwestern lakes

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Abstract

The common carp has been highly problematic in North American ecosystems since its introduction over a century ago. In many watersheds, its abundance appears to be driven by source-sink dynamics in which carp reproduce successfully in peripheral ponds that lack egg/larva micro-predators which then serve as sources of recruits for deeper lakes. This manuscript describes how carp were sustainably reduced in two chains of lakes by disrupting source-sink dynamics in three steps. First, we ascertained whether lakes had problematic densities of carp that could be explained by source-sink dynamics. Second, ways to control recruitment were developed and implemented including: (i) aerating source ponds to reduce hypoxia and increase micro-predator abundance, (ii) blocking carp migration, and (iii) locating and removing adults from sinks using targeted netting guided by Judas fish. Third, we monitored and adapted. Using this strategy, the density of carp in 3 lakes in one chain was reduced from 177 kg/ha to ~100 kg/ha in 3 years and held constant for a decade. Similarly, adult density was reduced from 300 kg carp/ha in 2 lakes in the other chain to 25 kg/ha. Once carp densities were low, aluminum sulfate treatments became reasonable and once conducted, water quality improved.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number36
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
JournalFishes
Volume5
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2020

Keywords

  • Common carp
  • Integrated pest control
  • Micro-predators
  • Source-sink
  • Sustainable
  • Water quality

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