By Sara Fox and Tim Campbell
Folks, we’ve completed round two of the Spring Thaw Throwdown Least Wanted AIS Tournament. Thanks for sticking with us! This round had some well-matched competitors and one quite surprising result.
Silver and bighead carp smoke round goby
It’s clear in this round the swim bladder-less gobies that hug the benthos just couldn’t hang with the high-flying silver carp. While silver and bighead carp probably benefited from some name recognition, it also seems that their invasiveness potential brought them to the Final Four. First of all, these fish can grow nearly five times as long as the round goby and currently have a threatening presence in the Mississippi River basin. Their reputation obviously has had a major impact on their performance in this tournament thus far.
Eurasian watermilfoil knocks out starry stonewort
This matchup really begged the question: do we dislike a current invasion or fear a future invasion more? While the few of you affected by Starry stonewort’s lake-bottom viciousness might be outraged by these results, there just happen to be way more voters who have witnessed Eurasian watermilfoil’s persistence in waterbodies across the state.
Phragmites destroys Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS)
This matchup was a bit unusual, considering VHS and Phragmites have never competed in the same court. For example, your best bet when looking for Phragmites is to look in a wetland. Conversely, VHS finds hosts while completely submerged underwater. Despite their differences, Phragmites can spread out really effectively (both on its own and via humans). This is likely why it performed so well this round.
VHS can at least take solace in the fact that this video exists.
Zebra and quagga mussels close out rusty crayfish
Clearly, more viewers have had their feet cut by zebra mussels on rocks than have had their toes pinched by rusty crayfish. Outside of that, we believe that their competitive advantage to spread–both undetected as veligers and hidden in nooks and crannies of boats as adults–have led to their victory in this round.
Predictions for the Final Four
We now get to see if Eurasian watermilfoil (EWM) can persist to the championship against silver/bighead carp. While EWM already has a presence in the state, just the idea of a silver/bighead carp threat has got them this far. This seems like a very even match and a higher profile repeat of last week’s established impact vs. threat of impact matchup.
Also next round, watch as zebra and quagga mussels take on the mighty Phragmites. Both have demonstrated their potential to spread and their impacts, but don’t directly compete with each other out in the landscape. This novel matchup will be one to watch.