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The role of Albertan anglers in tracking and controlling the invasive Prussian carp Carassius gibelio (Bloch, 1782)

  • Author / Creator
    Pentyliuk, Natasha
  • The recent invasion of the Prussian carp (Carassius gibelio) in freshwater environments in central Canada threatens native aquatic species and ecosystems. The fish’s hardiness, fecundity, and monozygotic reproduction pose challenges to their eradication, making population suppression and preventing spread priorities when it comes to addressing the invasion. Accurate distribution information is essential for targeting such efforts but is challenging to obtain given the logistics of continually sampling all locations within Prussian carp’s potential range. Could resource users be used in a citizen science program to generate species distribution data? Here we investigate whether reports of Prussian carp by recreational anglers in Alberta, Canada could have application as a cost-effective alternative to or complimentary tool for traditional population distribution sampling and early warning systems for aquatic invasive species (AIS). Specifically, we ask 1) What factors affect an angler’s willingness to report Prussian carp? (Chapter 2) and 2) To what extent does the distribution of Prussian carp generated by angler reports predict the distribution of the species determined by traditional biological sampling methods? (Chapter 3) To address these questions, we surveyed Albertan anglers in the summer of 2019, and in addition to having them report sightings of Prussian carp, asked a variety questions regarding characteristics that may influence their likeliness to report Prussian carp. Our survey revealed that anglers’ personal attachment to freshwater fisheries in Alberta and their perceived need for action to protect the fishery are important characteristics for predicting anglers’ willingness to report Prussian carp, as well the angler’s location (i.e., within or outside the province’s largest urban center - Calgary; Chapter 2). These results suggests that in addition to detailing the ecological impact of the Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS), fisheries managers could encourage behaviours and programs that develop anglers’ personal attachments to the fishery and frame the threat of AIS in ways that highlight the effects of the invasion on their angling experience or the aspects of the aquatic environment they are attached to. Clarifying how action by anglers addresses the threat posed by AIS such as Prussian carp, so the efficacy of any proposed behaviour is understood, may also increase reporting. Gathering reports of Prussian carp by recreational anglers in Alberta revealed that anglers can be a powerful resource for tracking an invasive species’ distribution when compared with biological sampling; 88% of the Prussian carp reports aligned with regions known to be invaded based on biological sampling, and for every report of Prussian carp received in a HUC-8 area (hydrological unit code 8; the second finest Albertan watershed unit), the probability that area was invaded (as indicated by biological sampling) increased by more than 10 times (Chapter 3). We also found a positive relationship between anglers’ fish identification abilities and likelihood of reporting Prussian carp. Anglers that fished more frequently were also more likely to have correctly identified Prussian carp, although the mechanism behind this relationship, be it sampling effort or angling specialization, is still unclear. This greater understanding of the factors that affect angler engagement in pro-conservation behaviours such as AIS reporting could aid in campaigns that aim to use such reports to determine AIS distributions. Beyond reporting, information on angler motivations could aid managers in investigating opportunities for anglers to aid in AIS removal efforts.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2021
  • Type of Item
    Thesis
  • Degree
    Master of Science
  • DOI
    https://doi.org/10.7939/r3-2dh8-0953
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.