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Use of Spatio-Temporal Habitat Suitability Modelling to Prioritise Areas for Common Carp Biocontrol in Australia Using the Virus CyHV-3

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posted on 23.09.2021, 00:47 by K Graham, D Gilligan, Paul BrownPaul Brown, RD van Klinken, KA McColl, PA Durr
Common carp (Cyprinus carpio) are an invasive species of the rivers and waterways of south-eastern Australia, implicated in the serious decline of many native fish species. Over the past 50 years a variety of control options have been explored, all of which to date have proved either ineffective or cost prohibitive. Most recently the use of cyprinid herpesvirus 3 (CyHV-3) has been proposed as a biocontrol agent, but to assess the risks and benefits of this, as well as to develop a strategy for the release of the virus, a knowledge of the fundamental processes driving carp distribution and abundance is required. To this end, we developed a novel process-based modelling framework that integrates expert opinion with spatio-temporal datasets via the construction of a Bayesian Network. The resulting weekly networks thus enabled an estimate of the habitat suitability for carp across a range of hydrological habitats in south-eastern Australia, covering five diverse catchment areas encompassing in total a drainage area of 132,129 km2 over a period of 17–27 years. This showed that while suitability for adult and subadult carp was medium-high across most habitats throughout the period, nevertheless the majority of habitats were poorly suited for the recruitment of larvae and young-of-year (YOY). Instead, high population abundance was confirmed to depend on a small number of recruitment hotspots which occur in years of favourable inundation. Quantification of the underlying ecological drivers of carp abundance thus makes possible detailed planning by focusing on critical weaknesses in the population biology of carp. More specifically, it permits the rational planning for population reduction using the biocontrol agent, CyHV-3, targeting areas where the total population density is above a “damage threshold” of approximately 100 kg/ha.


Support for the pilot project to investigate modelling of CyHV-3 for biocontrol of carp (2014-2016) was supplied by the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre and completed with funding from the National Carp Control Plan (FRDC, 2016-170).


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Journal of Environmental Management



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