Analyzing Preferred Habitat for Hypopthalmichtys molitrix and H. nobilis with emphasis on plankton density and river morphology
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Many studies have examined the effects of invasive species in ecosystems after they have been noticed as a problem. However, by taking precautionary actions you can prevent the spread of some invasive and eliminate their threat. By understanding habitat that is preferred by a specific species we can measure probability of invasion into other areas by determining if they are preferred, or sustainable to hold a population. Bighead and Silver carp (genus Hypophthalmichthys) are invasive freshwater fish that has high potential to spreading into the Great Lakes Watershed through the Chicago Sanitary and Shipping Canal (CSSC), an extension of the Illinois and Des Plaines Rivers. These Asian Carp filter feed on plankton and algae in the top 5-8 feet in the water column of these rivers, due to their opportunistic feeding habits and prolific reproduction they are displacing native species and have a potential to cause a trophic cascades in the Great Lakes. By taking measurements of water quality and plankton counts a noticeable difference was seen in the location where carp were present and not present. Stream morphology was significantly larger in width, depths, discharge and basin area. Plankton availability was also higher in the location where carp are known to be present. This suggests that carp prefer larger scale river systems and plankton counts are a significant driver in their spread. Better understanding the habitat preference can allow for crucial management steps in removing and reducing Asian Carp.