Food habits and relative abundances of native piscivores: implications for controlling common carp
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Common carp (Cyprinus carpio, carp) are a widespread and ecologically destructive invasive fish species. Carp management is critical for maintaining healthy aquatic ecosystems, and many control options are available, but most have proven to be ineffective. Carp abundances have increased at The Nature Conservancy’s Emiquon Preserve, Illinois, since its restoration in 2007 despite management efforts to suppress this species. We conducted a comparative diet study in Illinois, Tennessee, and Wisconsin to test whether bowfin (Amia calva), spotted gar (Lepisosteus oculatus, gar), and largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) commonly preyed upon carp. We focused on bowfin and gar because they are hypoxia-tolerant, similar to carp. We also assessed whether specific fish community characteristics were correlated with carp relative abundances. We found no evidence that bowfin, gar, and bass consumed large numbers of carp. However, carp may be limited in some ecosystems (e.g., Reelfoot Lake, Tennessee) through alternative mechanisms associated with bowfin, gar, bass, and bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus) included in a diverse native fish community.
KeywordsBowfin Common carp Feeding habits Floodplain restoration Largemouth bass Spotted gar
We thank The Nature Conservancy (TNC) for support and funding this project. The authors also thank TNC staff members Doug Blodgett, Tharran Hobson, Jason Beverlin, Dr. Maria Lemke, Denim Perry, Sally McClure, Mark Jones, Cammy Smith, and Dr. Jeff Walk for their assistance. We also thank the University of Tennessee at Martin, Reelfoot Lake Biological Station for funding, electrofishing boat use, and lodging. Josh Justice, Chris Bailey, and Cody Johnston provided critical field support for the Reelfoot Lake sampling. Current and former staff members of the Illinois Natural History Survey’s, Illinois River Biological Station, and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources were also instrumental in completing field portions of this study. The support for Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources personnel was provided in part by the Federal Aid in Sportfish Restoration Program, Project F-95-P, study SSOT.
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