WATERLOO, Ont. (Wednesday, September 11, 2013) A tiny number of Asian carp could establish a population of the invasive fish in the Great Lakes, according to new research from the University of Waterloo.
Published this week in the journal Biological Invasions, research from Professor Kim Cuddington of the Faculty of Science at Waterloo indicates that the probability of Asian carp establishment soars with the introduction of 20 fish into the Great Lakes, under some conditions.
"Although established Asian carp populations including the Silver and Bighead carps are widely present in the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers, it's expected that it's only a matter of time before the population migrates through the many hydrological connections to the Great Lakes," said Professor Cuddington. "Lake Erie, in particular, provides a highly suitable habitat for the fish with very productive embayments for the fish to find food."
A mature Asian carp can grow up to 50 kg and consumes about 40 per cent of its body weight daily. A minimal length of 70 cm is considered a mature size, with much more substantial lengths being reported. In competition for food and space, the Asian carp has a significant size advantage over native fish species.
"This species will have a huge impact on the food web," says Professor Cuddington. "Not only is it a fast-growing fish physically, but the population itself grows very quickly. A female can lay well over a million eggs a year, and with no known predators present in the Great Lakes, the Asian carp could dominate the waters and impact fisheries."
Professor Cuddington believes that we will not be able to stop the carp from entering the Great Lakes, and resources should focus on how to intercept new arrivals. If successful breeding occurs, biological control and trapping of vulnerable juveniles might prove the most successful strategy.
Individual fish have already been caught in two of the Great Lakes. The proba
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University of Waterloo