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Relationships among invasive common carp, native fishes and physicochemical characteristics in upper Midwest (USA) lakes

Weber, Michael J., Brown, Michael L.
Ecology of freshwater fish 2011 v.20 no.2 pp. 270-278
Ameiurus, Cyprinus carpio, Esox lucius, Lepomis macrochirus, Micropterus dolomieu, Micropterus salmoides, Morone chrysops, aquatic ecosystems, bass, chlorophyll, fish communities, indigenous species, invasive species, invertebrates, lakes, macrophytes, nutrient availability, physicochemical properties, turbidity, water quality, watersheds, South Dakota
- Common carp Cyprinus carpio is a widespread invasive species that, in high abundance, can impose numerous deleterious effects in aquatic ecosystems. Common carp increase turbidity and nutrient availability while reducing invertebrate prey resources and aquatic macrophytes, transforming shallow lakes from the clear- to turbid-water state. However, potential effects of common carp on native fish communities have received limited attention. We evaluated the relationships among relative abundances of nine native fishes and common carp for 81 lakes in eastern South Dakota and their associated physicochemical characteristics. Inverse threshold relationships among relative abundances of native fishes and common carp were identified for black bullhead Ameiurus melas, black crappie Pomoxis nigromaculatus, bluegill Lepomis macrochirus, white bass Morone chrysops and northern pike Esox lucius, while marginally significant relationships were detected for largemouth bass Micropterus salmoides and smallmouth bass M. dolomieu. Lakes where common carp relative abundance exceeded 0.6 fish per net night had low abundance of native fishes, whereas lower abundance of common carp resulted in variable abundance of native fishes. Lakes with abundance of common carp surpassing 0.6 fish per net night were also characterised by larger surface areas and watersheds and impaired water quality (higher dissolved solids and chlorophyll a concentrations and lower secchi depth). Our results are consistent with the biotic-abiotic constraining hypothesis that proposes biotic factors can regulate fish populations regardless of abiotic conditions. Thus, common carp abundance may need to be reduced and sustained below ecological thresholds to improve water quality and increase abundance of native fishes.