Invasive species not best conservation tool: Study

April 06, 2016

Harnessing an invasive fish species sounded like a promising conservation tool to help reverse the destruction wreaked by zebra mussels on endangered native mollusks in the Great Lakes - except that it won't work, says a University of Guelph ecologist.

In a novel twist on invasive species ecology, a research team led by integrative biology professor Joe Ackerman found that the round goby fish - an invader in Ontario waters -- only makes matters worse for native mollusks already driven to near-extinction by an earlier zebra mussel invasion.

The Guelph team's paper appears today in the Royal Society Open Science journal.

Ackerman worked with lead author and former master's student Maude Tremblay and Todd Morris, a researcher at Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Suspension-feeding mussels living on the bottom of lakes and streams help to clean water used for everything for drinking to fishing and other recreation.

Nearly all indigenous mussel species in the Great Lakes have been largely wiped out by zebra mussels, an invader that arrived in the late 1980s. Zebra mussels disrupt normal movement and feeding of native species, as well as clogging water intake pipes and fouling ship hulls.

Many native mussels remain in rivers and streams feeding the Great Lakes, said Ackerman. With the round goby invading these so-called conservation "hot spots," many scientists worried that the invasive fish would prey on those mollusks or out-compete native fish critical to the mussels' life cycle.

"Mussels need fish for successful reproduction. The larva has to attach to the gills or fins to develop into juveniles," said Ackerman.

He wondered whether the fish might help stave off extinction by serving as a new host for mussel larvae.

In the lab and in fieldwork, Tremblay compared development of mussel larvae on round gobies collected from the Grand and Sydenham rivers with larvae on the mollusks' customary fish hosts.

Although the larvae established themselves on round gobies, few developed into juveniles in the lab, said Ackerman.

That means endangered mussels are further threatened by hampered reproduction on round gobies that essentially "wastes" larvae.

Most invaders prey on native species or out-compete them for food and other resources. Limiting reproduction is a novel strategy for an invasive species, he said.

Ackerman said the study further underlines the need to control invaders in the Great Lakes.
-end-


University of Guelph

Related Invasive Species Articles from Brightsurf:

The invasive species that Europe needs to erradicate most urgently are identified
An international research team analyzed the risk impact and the effectiveness of possible erradication strategies for invasive species already in the region as well as those that have yet to arrive

Crayfish 'trapping' fails to control invasive species
Despite being championed by a host of celebrity chefs, crayfish 'trapping' is not helping to control invasive American signal crayfish, according to new research by UCL and King's College London.

Climate change is impacting the spread of invasive animal species
What factors influence the spread of invasive animal species in our oceans?

Invasive alien species may soon cause dramatic global biodiversity loss
An increase of 20 to 30 per cent of invasive non-native (alien) species would lead to dramatic future biodiversity loss worldwide.

Protected areas worldwide at risk of invasive species
Protected areas across the globe are effectively keeping invasive animals at bay, but the large majority of them are at risk of invasions, finds a involving UCL and led by the Chinese Academy of Science, in a study published in Nature Communications.

Charismatic invasive species have an easier time settling into new habitats
An international study, in which the University of Cordoba participated, assessed the influence of charisma in the handling of invasive species and concluded that the perception people have of them can hinder our control over these species and condition their spread

Invasive species with charisma have it easier
It's the outside that counts: Their charisma has an impact on the introduction and image of alien species and can even hinder their control.

Invasive species that threaten biodiversity on the Antarctic Peninsula are identified
Mediterranean mussels, seaweed and some species of land plants and invertebrates are among the 13 species that are most likely to damage the ecosystems on the Antarctic Peninsula.

Research networks can help BRICS countries combat invasive species
BRICS countries need more networks of researchers dedicated to invasion science if they wish to curb the spread of invasive species within and outside of their borders.

Look out, invasive species: The robots are coming
Researchers published the first experiments to gauge whether biomimetic robotic fish can induce fear-related changes in mosquitofish, aiming to discover whether the highly invasive species might be controlled without toxicants or trapping methods harmful to wildlife.

Read More: Invasive Species News and Invasive Species Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.