The piscicides rotenone and antimycin have been used for more than 70 years to manage fish populations by eliminating undesirable fish species. The effects of piscicides on aquatic invertebrate assemblages are considered negligible by some and significant by others. This difference of opinion has created contentious situations and delayed native fish restoration projects. We review the scientific evidence and report that short-term (< 3 months) impacts of piscicides to invertebrate assemblages varied from minor to substantial and long-term (> 1 year) impacts are largely unknown. Recovery of invertebrate assemblages following treatments ranged from a few months for abundances of common taxa to several years for rarer taxa. Variation in reported effects was primarily due to natural variation among species and habitats and a lack of adequate pre- and post-treatment sampling which prevents determining the true impacts to invertebrate assemblages. The factors most likely to influence impacts and recovery of aquatic invertebrate assemblages following piscicide treatments are: (1) concentration, duration, and breadth of the piscicide treatment; (2) invertebrate morphology and life history characteristics, including surface area to volume ratios, type of respiration organs, generation time, and propensity to disperse; (3) refugia presence; and (4) distance from colonization sources.
Additional publication details
Piscicides and invertebrates: after 70 years, does anyone really know?