Predictions on the effect of carp exclusion on water quality, zooplankton and submergent macropytes in a Great Lakes wetland

Lougheed, V.L., B. Crosbie and P. Chow-Fraser
Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
(1998) 55: 1189-1197


We conducted a study to examine the relationship between common carp (Cyprinus carpio) exclusion, water quality, zooplankton, and submergent macrophytes. Twelve 50-m2 in situ experimental enclosures were installed in degraded Cootes Paradise Marsh during the carp spawning period in 1995. Enclosures were stocked with two or three carp of similar size, ranging from 13 to 59 cm and in total biomass from 23 to 2100 kg/ha. Turbidity, total phosphorus, and total ammonia concentrations increased predictably with total carp biomass in the enclosures. Although carp had no direct effect on zooplankton community structure, increased turbidity and nutrient load associated with carp activity resulted in reduced total zooplankton biomass. We developed a relationship between species richness and water turbidity for 19 wetlands in the Great Lakes basin which indicated that above an apparent threshold of 20 NTU, there were less than five species of submergent plants, while a more diverse community existed in less turbid systems. We predict that water turbidity in Cootes Paradise Marsh may not be reduced below this threshold value of 20 NTU following carp exclusion. We emphasize the need to consider other factors that may contribute to increases in water turbidity and nutrient concentrations, including wind resuspension and substrate characteristics.

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