Controlling invasive fish in fluctuating environments: Model analysis of common carp (Cyprinus carpio) in a shallow lake

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Climate change can act to facilitate or inhibit invasions of non-native species. Here, we address the influence of climate change on control of non-native common carp (hereafter, carp), a species recognized as one of the “world's worst” invaders across the globe. Control of this species is exceedingly difficult, as it exhibits rapid population growth and compensatory density dependence. In many locations where carp have invaded, however, climate change is altering hydrologic regimes and may influence population demography and efficacy of human control efforts. To further evaluate these processes, we employed a modified version of an age-based population model (CarpMOD), to investigate how hydrologic variability (change in lake area) influences carp population dynamics and control efforts in Malheur Lake, southeastern Oregon, USA. We explored how changes in lake area influence carp populations under three control scenarios: (1) no carp removal, (2) carp removal during low water years, and (3) carp removal during all years. Lake area fluctuations strongly influenced carp populations and the efficacy of carp control. Modeled carp biomass peaked when the lake transitioned from high-to-low levels, and carp biomass declined when lake area transitioned from low-to-high. Removing carp during low water periods—when fish were concentrated into a smaller area—reduced carp populations almost as much as removing carp every year. Furthermore, the effectiveness of control efforts increased with the prevalence and severity of low lake conditions (longer durations of very low lake area). These simulations suggest that a drier climate may naturally decrease carp populations and make them easier to control. However, drier conditions may also negatively affect aquatic ecosystems and potentially have a greater impact than non-native species themselves.

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Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Controlling invasive fish in fluctuating environments: Model analysis of common carp (Cyprinus carpio) in a shallow lake
Series title Ecosphere
DOI 10.1002/ecs2.3985
Volume 13
Issue 5
Year Published 2022
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Contributing office(s) Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center
Description e3985, 15 p.
Country United States
State Oregon
Other Geospatial Malheur National Wildlife Refuge
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