Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Groundbreaking Study Says Asian Carp Could Make Up One-Third of Lake Erie Biomass

Groundbreaking Study Says Asian Carp Could Make Up One-Third of Lake Erie Biomass

By Padma Nagappan

Lake Erie is bountiful in highly prized walleye and rainbow trout. But populations of these commercially important fish could plummet if Asian carp manage to invade the lake, according to a new report.

In the groundbreaking study, scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the University of Notre Dame found that carp, which are moving at a rapid pace toward the Great Lakes, could make up one-third of all fish in Lake Erie by weight within 20 years if the invasive species overcomes efforts to keep it at bay.

Voracious eaters, Asian carp feed on plankton, which are tiny organisms which form the basis of the food web. Small fish that live in Lake Erie—the emerald shiner, gizzard shad and rainbow smelt—also feed on plankton and their numbers could fall dramatically if they have to compete with carp for food, according to the study. This would hurt the commercially valuable walleye, which eat the smaller fish.

Two Asian carp species found in the U.S.—the bighead carp and silver carp—have reached watersheds near the Great Lakes. In October 2015, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service scientists discovered that silver carp had advanced a record 12 miles up the Illinois River in just one month, traveling 66 miles toward Lake Michigan since the beginning of 2015.

“Back in the 1970s, the carp were introduced purposely to clear out catfish farms in some ponds in Arkansas," Ed Rutherford, coauthor of the study and a fisheries biologist with the NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, said. “They escaped from there during some flooding and made their way into the watershed of the Mississippi and are now very abundant in the Mississippi and the Illinois Rivers."

The carp now make up about 80 percent, by weight, of all the fish in those rivers, he said, but computer modeling study shows that the potential impact on Lake Erie would not be as extreme.

“That's because Lake Erie has more potential predators for young Asian carp than in those rivers," Rutherford said.

This article was reposted with permission from our media associate TakePart.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Beloved Orca Found Dead Due to Entanglement in Fishing Gear

Oppose Welfare Ranching, Not Wolves

This Woman Wears 15,000 Bees to Help Others Connect to Nature

27,000 Pink Plastic Detergent Bottles Wash Up on UK Beach

The wildfires that roared through Eastern Washington in September had a devastating impact on an extremely endangered species of rabbit.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A protestor in NYC holds up a sign that reads, "November Is Coming" on June 14, 2020 in reference to voting in the 2020 presidential election. Ira L. Black / Corbis / Getty Images

By Mark Hertsgaard

What follows are not candidate endorsements. Rather, this nonpartisan guide aims to inform voters' choices, help journalists decide what races to follow, and explore what the 2020 elections could portend for climate action in the United States in 2021 and beyond.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Activists fight a peat fire in Siberia in September. ALEXANDER NEMENOV / AFP via Getty Images

The wildfires that ignited in the Arctic this year started earlier and emitted more carbon dioxide than ever before.

Read More Show Less
A metapopulation project in South Africa has almost doubled the population of cheetahs in less than nine years. Ken Blum / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 3.0

By Tony Carnie

South Africa is home to around 1,300 of the world's roughly 7,100 remaining cheetahs. It's also the only country in the world with significant cheetah population growth, thanks largely to a nongovernmental conservation project that depends on careful and intensive human management of small, fenced-in cheetah populations. Because most of the reserves are privately funded and properly fenced, the animals benefit from higher levels of security than in the increasingly thinly funded state reserves.

Read More Show Less
A new super enzyme feeds on the type of plastic that water and soda bottles are made of, polyethylene terephthalate (PET). zoff-photo / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Scientists are on the brink of scaling up an enzyme that devours plastic. In the latest breakthrough, the enzyme degraded plastic bottles six times faster than previous research achieved, as The Guardian reported.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch