The invasion of sliver carp and bighead carp collectively known as Asian carp has been an ongoing problem since the mid-1990s. These Asian carp escaped from confinement when they were brought to the United States (Irons et al. 2007). They were brought here for aquaculture or also known as aquafarming (Ruebush 2012). They eventually reached the Upper Mississippi River System or UMRS (Irons et al. 2007).
The Asian carp are causing many problems such as negative impacts on native communities for example the gizzard shed and bigmouth buffalo fish and certain groups have been and are continuing to work on strategies such as eDNA and Soundbubble barrier to keep the population contained. These Asian carps are messing up native communities that they live in. They cause competition for not only food but also habitat. Asian carp populations are continuing to grow and this means that they are consuming more native fish and plankton. According to Irons et al. , the Asian carp population is not declining.
Irons and the rest of his team went out and caught fish in La Grange Reach, Illinois River and saw how many Asian carps they had collected. They then compared it to annual totals from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. When they did this the results were that Asian carp have increased in La Grange Reach from 1990-2005 in commercial harvest and biomass. Their analysis also shows that there will be a continued increase in population size (Irons et al. 2007). They also did a study to see how other types of fish communities were affected by the Asian carp.
The other species of fish were gizzard shed and bigmouth buffalo. The research team studied the decline before Asian carp were a big problem. After the integration, of Asian carp the gizzard shed and bigmouth buffalo declined rapidly. There were not very many other factors that could have attributed to the decline in these fish. The water quality, primary productivity, predator-prey interactions, and annual river conditions were all normal and didn’t show any evidence of effecting the shed and bigmouth buffalo. The decline is decreases the condition as well.
The conditions now could lead to poor health and an increase chance of disease. This will in turn cause long-term decreases in fitness for the shed and bigmouth buffalo (Irons et al. 2007). These fish are not only causing a big problem for other ocean life but also people. They cause problems for recreational and commercial river users as long as commercial fisherman. When disturbed these Asian carps like to jump out of the water and they can cause damage not only to boater’s property but also personal injury (Perea 2002). Asian carp are having a big effect on planktivorous species.
Not all fish are planktivorous but most of them are in the early developmental stages. This study is suggesting that Asian carps have an influence on not only planktivorous species but also non-planktivorous species. Levi Solomon and et al. studied pre- and post- Asian carp establishment for 22 years in La Grange Reach of the Illinois River. At the end of their study the results the results were very different in the pre- and post-establishment. Through this study it does suggest that non-planktivorous species are being affected as well.
This is seen through looking at piscivorous sportfishes such as white bass, white crappie, and black crappie and other piscivores such as shortnose and longnose gar, spotted gar and bowfin and their ontogenetic shifts. In preAsian carp time there were more piscivorous sportfishes than other piscivores and in post- Asian carp time it was the other way around. Solomon and et al. thinks this is because other piscivores transition at an earlier developmental stage. As sportfish began to decrease this possibly made more resources available for gars and bowfin.
The Asian carp are negatively affecting native fish communities by eating many different types of fish. This is messing up the food web in the Illinois River (Solomon et al. 2016). River otters in Illinois eat mostly fish, crayfish, and amphibians. Feltrop and et al. did a study to see if river otters have been consuming any Asian carp. In this study, they see that fish and crayfish are the biggest part of the otter’s diets. The amount of crayfish that otters eat increase in JanuaryApril because this is when more crayfish is available.
The river otters were searched to see if they had Asian carp otoliths and pharyngeal teeth. It was interesting because in their study some of the areas where the otters were there were previously no Asian carp found but some of them had otoliths and pharyngeal teeth of Asian carp. There was also areas where there were Asian carp and not otoliths and pharyngeal teeth were found in the otters. This study concluded that some Illinois River otters are consuming small amounts of Asian carps (Feltrop et al. 2016).
In the future this could be important and should be monitored because if river otters start to have Asian carp in their diets more it would decrease the amount of Asian carp. This would be beneficial to eventually get the other fish communities around back to the normal and restore the food web. Management of Asian carp has been an ongoing issue that ecologist are studying and trying to come up with a solution. When this topic comes up its people discuss how long, when, where the management should begin. In many cases the ecologists can’t come up with a plan and nothing is done.
Many of the detection tools to see how large the population is are inaccurate. We then think the problem is smaller than it actually is and don’t take action. In recent studies the application of environmental DNA also known as eDNA, is shown as an effective surveillance method for rare fish. The eDNA is supposed to show an earlier detection and be able to take action quicker than other detection methods. This eDNA has already shown that at least silver carp are in Lake Michigan. At least with this tool they can detect Asian carp faster and put into effect a management plan (Jerde et al. 011).
Another management plan that has been tested and seems to help prevent Asian carp is sound-bubble barrier and sound-bubble strobe light barrier technology. Sound-bubble barrier (SBB) and sound-bubble strobe light barriers (SBSLB) are safer and other alternative ways of preventing an outbreak of these invasive species. These barriers are used to try to keep Asian carp and other fish from going upstream passage. SBSLB and SBB were proven to help prevent the invasive species of moving upstream more. There was no significant difference between the two barriers thought.
The SBSLB although it has a strobe light it didn’t mean that it worked better than the SBB. This is a very effective way to keep Asian carp in one place and make sure they do not go upstream. In the study done by Ruebush and et al. , only two of the 575 marked silver carps got past the barrier and were found upstream. Then later in 2010, no fish were found past the barrier. In this study they were able to find a level at where the sound should be to deter the Asian carp. This technology would be really good to use and to herd the Asian carp into certain areas.
This way they would not be causing problems with people or other fish. This barrier although it does look to be promising should not be used as an absolute barrier. These barriers also could have other negative effects on other fish. They need to be tested more to see how they affect the other fish communities to see if this could be a long term solution (Ruebush et al. 2012). In conclusion, this outbreak of Asian carp is and will continue to be a problem unless we try to find a solution to the problem. They cause problems with other fish communities and also the people around them.
The river otters have been seen to eat some of the Asian carps but we are uncertain what this will do to them and the community around them. There is a few solutions that are being tested and tried out but we are still looking for a more long term fix. We can use EDNA to locate these fish faster and then possibly use things like SBB and SBSLB to contain the outbreak and have it not go into other parts of the rivers and lakes. In the future it is very hopeful that a more permanent and long term solution will be found.