An Experimental Evaluation of Vulnerability of Native and invasive Mollusks To Foraging Juvenile Black Carp

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Black carp (Mylopharyngodon piceus), a large molluscivore native to China that has recently established non-native populations in North America, may cause further declines of already threatened and endangered mollusks in the Mississippi River basin, as well as be an efficient predator on nonnative mollusks that originate from within the native range of this fish. Little is known, however, about this species’ potential food web impacts on native and nonnative mollusks, especially as juveniles, because this life stage is rarely collected in the field. To address this knowledge gap, we evaluated foraging efficiency (e.g., capture success) of age-0 (mean total length 89 mm) and age-1 (mean total length 206 mm) juvenile black carp on individual snail and mussel species and assessed the fate (e.g., shell damage) and survival of different mollusk prey through a series of laboratory feeding experiments. Experimental trials were conducted in aquariums where black carp were allowed to forage on a single prey taxon within a structureless sand environment. Age-0 black carp were tested with hornsnails (Pluerocera acuta), pond snails (Family Planorbidae), and the unionid Hamiota perovalis. Age-1 black carp were tested with hornsnails, invasive Asian clams (Corbicula fluminea), fingernail clams (Family Sphaeriidae), and two unionid mussels (Lampsilis cariosa and Lampsilis cardium). Age-0 black carp rarely consumed mussels, but did attack and readily consume pond snails. Age-1 black carp consumed more prey during trials with fingernail clams and unionid species compared to trials with Asian clams or hornsnails. Although not regularly consumed, hornsnails were often attacked and significantly damaged. Asian clams were rarely attacked or damaged, suggesting that they may be less attractive prey for juvenile black carp compared to the native mussels tested. Our study represents an essential first step towards understanding the influence of juvenile black carp on natural prey assemblages.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMidwest Fish and Wildlife Conference 2020
StatePublished - 2020


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