DETROIT, June 2 (UPI) -- Western Lake Erie would make a fine home for invasive Asian carp, despite previous reports the Great Lakes are too cold for the fish, U.S. researchers say.
Duane Chapman, a U.S. Geological Survey scientist, says there already proof of that, with three Asian carp being found in Lake Erie over the past 15 years, all apparently quite healthy and growing rapidly, the Detroit Free Press reported Thursday.
The findings contradict some scientists' contention that Great Lakes temperatures would be too cold, their tributaries too short for spawning, and food supplies insufficient for bighead and silver carp to thrive.
Chapman and Patrick Kocovsky of the USGS' Lake Erie Biological Station analyzed temperatures in Lake Erie as well as temperatures, river length and velocity -- three factors considered critical for young carp to survive -- in Lake Erie's tributaries.
Comparing their measurements to data from Russian and Chinese lakes and rivers inhabited by the carp, they found temperatures in Erie's western basin and the Maumee tributary were warm enough each year to ensure rapid growth and maturing of both silver and bighead carp.
"These parameters are considered to be sort of an Achilles heel of carp, because those factors do apparently keep the carp from establishing populations elsewhere," Chapman said. "But we can't see that they would be problematic for the carp in Lake Erie."
Lake Erie is the warmest, shallowest and most productive among the Great Lakes, with significant sport and commercial catches of walleye, perch and other important fish, the Free Press said.