High-Density Grass Carp Stocking Effects on a Reservoir Invasive Plant, Water Quality, and Native Fishes

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Title: High-Density Grass Carp Stocking Effects on a Reservoir Invasive Plant, Water Quality, and Native Fishes
Author: Garner, Alan Brad
Advisors: Dr. Kenneth H. Pollock, Committee Member
Dr. Thomas J. Kwak, Committee Chair
Dr. Joseph E. Hightower, Committee Member
Abstract: Stocking grass carp Ctenopharyngodon idella is a commonly applied technique used to control nuisance aquatic vegetation in reservoirs. Factors that influence the degree of aquatic vegetation control are stocking density, regional climate, abundance and species composition of the aquatic plant community, and relative grass carp feeding preferences for the plant species. We evaluated high-density grass carp stocking in a reservoir for control of parrot-feather (Myriophyllum aquaticum, an invasive aquatic plant that is not preferentially consumed by grass carp) and the associated effects on water quality and native fishes. Lookout Shoals Lake, a piedmont North Carolina reservoir, was stocked with triploid grass carp at a density of 100 fish per vegetated hectare. Parrot-feather biomass in the lake was significantly reduced three months after grass carp stocking, compared to biomass in in-situ exclosures. During the second year after grass carp stocking, parrot-feather biomass in the lake compared to biomass in in-situ exclosures indicated continued control, but unexplained lack of growth within most experimental exclosures precluded biomass analyses. Increases in ambient water chlorophyll a, reactive phosphorus, and nitrate-nitrite concentrations were measured after grass carp stocking. We evaluated the native fish community using seasonal shoreline electrofishing before and after grass carp stocking. Total catch for all fish species in aggregate at shoreline transects was not significantly different after grass carp stocking by number or biomass. Catch rates of largemouth bass Micropterus salmoides, bluegill Lepomis macrochirus, and redbreast sunfish Lepomis auritus were not significantly different after grass carp stocking, but yellow perch Perca flavescens catch rates were significantly lower. The biological significance of fish distribution changes and long-term effects on lake biota remain undetermined. Our results demonstrate that intensive grass carp stocking can control an invasive aquatic plant that is not preferentially consumed by grass carp, and reveal associated changes in water quality and fish distributions.
Date: 2008-11-14
Degree: MS
Discipline: Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences
URI: http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/resolver/1840.16/240


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