Selectively controlling carp using biotoxins
An innovative new project at MAISRC is adding new tools to the toolbox for common carp control: the selective use of toxins, and using bluegills as biocontrol. This research will complement and enhance control options already researched at MAISRC, including winter seining and aeration combined with barriers.
In partnership with the USGS’s Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center, MAISRC researchers are developing and testing a unique toxicant to kill the invasive fish.
Because the toxin, antimycin-a, is lethal to most fish, researchers must determine a highly species-specific method of delivery. Unlike native fish, carp are attracted to corn – leading researchers to formulate toxic corn pellets. Carp can also be trained to aggregate in baited areas by feeding them, and after sufficient training, researchers can switch out the regular corn pellets for toxic pellets and kill the carp.
In addition to testing the toxin on native fish such as perch and sunfish to ensure they are not harmed, researchers will be determining the lethal concentration required and the amount of time that elapses before the carp die.
“Antimycin-a is already approved as a piscicide, and we know it can be used to kill fish,” said Dr. Przemek Bajer. “The unique – and critical – part here is that we are figuring out how to ensure it only harms invasive common carp and no native species.”
And for the first time in whole-lake experiments with natural lake processes at play, this project will also test whether bluegills can be used as a biocontrol agent for common carp. By consuming their eggs and larvae, bluegills can reduce common carp populations. They also do well in hypereutrophic lakes, an environment in which carp typically thrive. Having a better understanding of bluegill-carp interactions in both high- and low-nutrient lakes could eventually result in a set of variables that would determine whether sunfish could be used for control in a specific lake.
Read more about common carp research at MAISRC here, and learn more about this from researchers Przemek Bajer and Josh Poole at the 2016 Aquatic Invasive Species Research and Management Showcase.