ANN ARBOR—If they successfully invade Lake Erie, Asian carp could eventually account for about a third of the total weight of fish in the lake and could cause declines in most fish species—including prized sport and commercial fish such as walleye, according to a new computer modeling study. A few fish species, including smallmouth bass, would likely increase. The study is the first to use a food-web model to examine the likely impacts of bighead and silver carp in Lake Erie. These plankton-eating Asian carp are established in watersheds close to the Great Lakes but not in the lakes themselves. According to the study, walleye, rainbow trout, gizzard shad and emerald shiners could all decline, with declines in emerald shiner of up to 37 percent. Smallmouth bass stood to gain the most, with increases of up to 16 percent.
What are Asian Carp?
Asian carp may cause Lake Erie fish to decline : Great Lakes Region
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Great Lakes Region
Silver, bighead, and grass carps are all invasive fishes referred to as "Asian carp. Asian carp pose threats to aquatic vegetation, food webs, commercial and recreational fishing, and silver carp pose additional threats to human health due to their propensity to leap out of the water when disturbed. Grass carp were originally introduced to the United States in as a method for pond and lake maintenance Mitchell and Kelly and are still stocked and sold in some states.
As the invasive Asian Carp move up the Illinois River threatening the Great Lakes, managers and policy makers struggle with the question of what impact the invasive fish will have on those ecosystems. Their results predict that Asian Carp could comprise up to 34 percent of the total fish weight in Lake Erie, a much lower number the 60 percent found in the Illinois and Mississippi rivers. The invasive carp is expected to decrease the numbers of certain fish species due to competition for food, but is also expected to increase other species, because juvenile carp will serve as a food source for native species.