Effects of common carp (Cyprinus carpio) on water quality in aquatic ecosystems dominated by submerged plants: a mesocosm study.
Common carp (Cyprinus carpio) have been introduced into aquatic systems across the world, where their benthivorous feeding behavior has resulted in serious water quality problems. A 12-week mesocosm experiment was set up to test the hypotheses that common carp increase water column nutrient levels and decrease water clarity in aquatic ecosystems dominated by submerged plants. Further, we tested whether the effect of common carp on macrophytes depended on the species of plants. Relative to the controls, the presence of carp decreased water clarity by increasing total suspended solids (TSS) and light attenuation. However, levels of total nitrogen (TN) and total phosphorus (TP) in the water column were reduced. No significant change in phytoplankton biomass (measured as chlorophyll a) and the biomass of Hydrilla verticillata was observed between common carp treatment mesocosms and controls, but the common carp did reduce the biomass of the submerged macrophyte Vallisneria denseserrulata. We conclude that removal of common carp is likely to improve water clarity in aquatic ecosystems dominated by submerged plants primarily by decreasing TSS and that the effect of common carp on macrophytes is stronger for the meadow forming Vallisneria than for the canopy forming Hydrilla.