An Asian carp, jolted by an electric current from a research boat, jumping from the Illinois River near Havana, Ill. An electric barrier in a Chicago area canal is meant to keep Asian carp from getting into the Great Lakes from downstate rivers. Now, a study led by University of Illinois researchers suggests another force may be keeping the invasive carp from making the trip: pollution.
Credit Creative Commons. Proposals to solve the Asian carp problem in the Illinois River include everything from electric barriers to sound waves. However, the solution may ultimately come from basic economic demand generated by creating a robust market for carp-based products.
Asian carp, jolted by an electric current from a research boat, jump from the Illinois River near Havana, Ill. Invasive species like these have been found swarming by the thousands at a dam separating them from Lake Decatur. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is considering options to deal with thousands of invasive Asian carp that are clustering near the base of the Lake Decatur dam.
Invasive silver carp have been moving north toward the Great Lakes since their accidental release in the s. But, for the past decade, the invading front hasn't moved past Kankakee. A new study, led by scientists at the University of Illinois, suggests that Chicago's water pollution may be a contributing to this lack of upstream movement.
Since the s invasive Asian carp have steadily migrated north into the U. Midwest, infesting the watersheds of the Mississippi, Missouri and Illinois rivers. The voracious bottom-feeders can strip entire river ecosystems of zooplankton, the basic food of native fish species— and now they seem poised to breach the Great Lakes ecosystem.
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Asian carps were brought from Asia to North America in the s and 70s. Since then they have migrated north through U. Photo: OMNR.
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Though all are fast growing and prolific feeders that out-compete native fish and can leave a trail of environmental destruction in their wake, the four species of Asian carp do not impact the underwater environment in the exact same ways. Grass carp present significantly different risks to the ecosystem compared to highly invasive bighead carp and silver carp. For more information on the differences between the four species, please refer back to our species pages.