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Diet overlap among two Asian carp and three native fishes in backwater lakes on the Illinois and Mississippi rivers

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Abstract

Bighead and silver carp are well established in the Mississippi River basin following their accidental introduction in the 1980s. Referred to collectively as Asian carp, these species are filter feeders consuming phytoplankton and zooplankton. We examined diet overlap and electivity of Asian carp and three native filter feeding fishes, bigmouth buffalo, gizzard shad, and paddlefish, in backwater lakes of the Illinois and Mississippi rivers. Rotifers, Keratella spp., Brachionus spp., and Trichocerca spp., were the most common prey items consumed by Asian carp and gizzard shad, whereas crustacean zooplankton were the preferred prey of paddlefish. Bigmouth buffalo diet was broad, including both rotifers and crustacean zooplankton. Dietary overlap with Asian carp was greatest for gizzard shad followed by bigmouth buffalo, but we found little diet overlap for paddlefish. Diet similarity based on taxonomy correlated strongly with diet similarity based on size suggesting filtration efficiency influenced the overlap patterns we observed. Although rotifers were the most common prey item consumed by both bighead and silver carp, we found a negative relation between silver carp CPUE and cladoceran density. The competitive effect of Asian carp on native fishes may be forestalled because of the high productivity of Illinois and Mississippi river habitats, yet the potential for negative consequences of Asian carp in less productive ecosystems, including Lake Michigan, should not be underestimated.

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Acknowledgements

Funding for this project was provided by the National Sea Grant College Program, Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, and Illinois Natural History Survey. This project would not have been completed without the assistance and patience of the Illinois River Biological Station staff (INHS), Great Rivers Field Station staff (INHS), Johnathan Yu, Lindsey Monroe, Brian Eckstein, Rob Maher (ILDNR), and Jim Beasley. All of their help and hard work is greatly appreciated. This is publication number 24 of the National Great Rivers Research and Education Center.

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Correspondence to John H. Chick.

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Sampson, S.J., Chick, J.H. & Pegg, M.A. Diet overlap among two Asian carp and three native fishes in backwater lakes on the Illinois and Mississippi rivers. Biol Invasions 11, 483–496 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10530-008-9265-7

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