Fish community succession and biomanipulation to control two common aquatic ecosystem stressors during a large-scale floodplain lake restoration

Todd D. VanMiddlesworth, Nerissa N. McClelland, Greg G. Sass, Andrew Fowler Casper, Timothy W. Spier, Michael J. Lemke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Biomanipulation, or management actions aimed to structure biological communities to achieve certain goals, has often been used in the restoration of aquatic ecosystems. In 2000, The Nature Conservancy acquired the Emiquon Preserve, which included two former Illinois River floodplain lakes, to restore these ecosystems. Restoration included stocking to establish a native fish community commensurate with historical records. Largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides, bass) were also introduced to control poor water clarity and invasive common carp (Cyprinus carpio, carp). We summarized fish community characteristics and tested whether bass contributed to water clarity maintenance and limited carp during 2007–2014. The fish community was dominated by species stocked in greatest abundance, 13 of 32 species initially stocked have not been collected, and species diversity increased. No carp were observed in bass diets, water clarity declined significantly, and carp relative abundance increased. Increasing water levels during 2008–2009 diffused bass predation potential upon zooplanktivorous fishes and carp and weakened potential trophic cascading interactions. Our findings suggest that water level management, greater stocking of piscivores to maintain predator densities, prevention of gizzard shad (Dorosoma cepedianum) introduction, and/or a more diverse fish community including other native piscivores may be required to achieve long-term restoration goals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)73-88
Number of pages16
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017



  • Biomanipulation
  • Common carp
  • Fish community
  • Floodplain lake restoration
  • Largemouth bass
  • Species diversity
  • The Nature Conservancy’s Emiquon Preserve

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science

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