Asian carp pose bigger threat than previously assumed

 (Wednesday, March 20, 2013)

The reproductive habits of the Asian carp, which is invading Midwestern waterways, are more adaptable than researchers had assumed, new research finds.

“We need to recognize that these species have greater flexibility … than perhaps we originally thought, so we probably need to be prepared for them to become established in a wider range of ecosystems than we originally expected,” said Reuben Goforth, assistant professor of forestry and natural resources at Purdue University and leader of the study.

The non-native species eats enormous amounts of plankton, pushing out native fish. Researchers are concerned that as the carp population spreads, it poses a risk to the $7 billion Great Lakes fishing industry.

Goforth’s team looked at Indiana’s Wabash River, where officials constructed a fence to block the carp from swimming from the Wabash into the headwaters of the Maumee River, a Lake Erie tributary.

Researchers found Asian carp eggs in parts of the river that were thought to be too narrow or slow-moving for carp spawning. They also found eggs drifting in the water as late as September. In the past, researchers thought carp spawning ended in July.

The research was published in the journal Freshwater Biology (AP/Fargo Forum, March 19).

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