The new study looks at how three factors have affected Lake Michigan’s vulnerability to bighead and silver carp.
The ongoing warming of Lake Michigan increases its susceptibility to Asian carp, in part by reducing the capacity of quagga mussels to act as an ecological barrier against the voracious algae-eating fish, according to a new University of Michigan-led study.
Asian carp and the trillions of quagga mussels that carpet the bottom of Lake Michigan would compete for the same food—algae and other types of plankton. Some Great Lakes researchers have suggested that the fingernail-size mollusks could help prevent the invasive fish from gaining a foothold.
Don’t count on it, the authors of the new computer modeling study conclude. Even in the best-case scenario, the mussels’ ability to help fend off Asian carp would be limited in time and space, and both climate warming and nutrient pollution could lessen any protective role the mussels might play, the researchers determined.
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