U of M study: Climate change may aid Asian carp invasion of Great Lakes | Michigan Radio
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U of M study: Climate change may aid Asian carp invasion of Great Lakes

Jul 8, 2020

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A new study by University of Michigan researchers finds climate change may help Asian carp overcome another invasive species to gain a foothold in the Great Lakes.

The study looks at how three factors (climate change, nutrient management, and invasive mussels) have affected Lake Michigan's vulnerability to bighead and silver carp.  

Peter Alsip is with U of M’s Cooperative Institute for Great Lakes Research. He says researchers examined the theory that invasive Quagga and Zebra mussels could serve as an ‘ecological barrier’ against Asian carp. The invasive mussels, already established in Lake Michigan, could reduce the food supply leaving little for Asian carp to survive on. 

But Alsip says climate change will likely continue to increase lake temperatures and also increase agricultural runoff, greatly increasing the carp’s potential food supply of algae and other types of plankton. 

“Even in the presence of mussels, Big Head and Silver carp could survive in much more expansive areas of the Lake,” says Alsip. "If phosphorous loads were ever to increase again despite the presence of the mussels."

The study appears in the journal Biological Invasions.

In the decades since the species was introduced into North America, invasive Asian carp have overrun ecosystems. There are elevated concerns the carp will reach the Great Lakes via a man-made connection between the Illinois River and Lake Michigan. Asian carp could potentially devastate the Great Lake’s $7 billion fishing industry.