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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Columbia based scientists working on ways to control Asian carp

COLUMBIA, Mo. • The fish tank at the U.S. Geological Survey's Columbia Environmental Research Center looked like it held a swirling black cloud. A school of juvenile Asian carp was clustered together and rapidly rotating from the outside of the school to the inside.
"They hate to be alone," said Robin Calfee, a USGS biologist who studies the carp.
The carp were acting like this because they were frightened; people were standing over their tank. One of the fish had released a chemical signal known as an "alarm cue," and the others reacted accordingly. The group clustered together to protect itself from a potential predator.
USGS biologists want to take advantage of this behavior. In groundbreaking research, Columbia-based scientists are looking at ways to use the carp's alarm pheromones, attraction pheromones or commercial bait scents to control the movement of carp populations that have taken over many Midwest waterways. They believe this research might hold the key to preventing the invasive species from spreading farther.

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