Tests in a semi-natural environment suggest that bait and switch strategy could be used to control invasive common carp.
Common Carp (Cyprinus carpio Linnaeus, 1758), is a highly invasive species that has had profound effects on biodiversity and ecosystem services. Many Carp management methods have been applied including physical removal, pesticide treatments of whole lakes, and water drawdowns. Herein, we tested key elements of a potential "bait and switch" approach in which corn could be used to induce feeding aggregations of Carp and then switched for corn pellets with a pesticide Antimycin-A (ANT-A) to selectively target the Carp. First, laboratory experiments were used to determine if addition of lethal concentrations of ANT-A to corn pellets deterred Carp from eating corn-based food pellets. Second, a pond experiment tested if a corn-based bait containing ANT-A functioned as a species-specific Carp management tool in a semi-natural environment with three common native fishes: White Sucker (Catostomus commersonii Lacepède, 1803), Yellow Perch (Perca flavescens, Mitchill, 1814), and Bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus Rafinesque, 1819). The use of baited sites by Carp and native species was monitored using passive integrated transponder (PIT) tags. Mortality of each species and presence of corn in their digestive tracts was also monitored. Our laboratory experiment showed that presence of ANT-A did not deter Carp from consuming the pellets. The pond experiment showed that only Carp perished in significant numbers once toxic bait was applied. Further, only Carp increased their use of baited sites once baiting began, and only Carp had corn in their digestive tracts. Overall, our results indicate that corn might function as a species-specific Carp attractant in systems of North American Midwest and that corn-based bait can be used to effectively conceal a lethal dose of ANT-A. Further research is necessary to refine this potential management tool, specifically investigating the behavioral and social dynamics of Carp aggregating at sites baited with corn to enhance the temporal and spatial specificity of pesticide application.