Brown and black bullheads: Biological control using native predators
Overall effectiveness category Awaiting assessment
Number of studies: 0
Background information and definitions
Encouraging native predators can potentially increase predation on the population of invasive bullheads, thereby biologically controlling bullhead populations.
Large game fish such as bass Micropterus salmoides, pike Esox lucius, pickerel Esox niger, and perch Perca flavescens, in addition to snapping turtles Chelydra serpentina, water snakes, and wading birds are known to prey upon brown bullheads (EPA 2015). In addition, it is reported that parasitic trematodes, cestodes, copepods and nematodes have been found in brown bullheads, though it is not clear to what extent they affect bullhead survival (EPA 2015).
Protective spines on bullheads and the species' preference for eating mostly at night, make bullheads an uncommon prey for other fish (Sigurdson 2012). However, pike, turtles, flathead catfish Pylodictis olivaris, great blue herons Ardea herodias and otters (subfamily Lutrinae) eat small bullheads up to four inches long.
It is considered that biological control of adult brown bullheads is unlikely given the paucity of natural predators within the native range, although juveniles may be predated upon by certain large-bodied fishes in the native range, such as Esox species (CABI 2015).
CABI (2015) Datasheet on Ameiurus nebulosus (brown bullhead). CABI Invasive Species Compendium. CABI International, Wallingford, UK. 21 pp.
EPA (2015) Brown Bullhead. Econorisk Profile. United States Environmental Protection Agency, Washington D.C., USA. 6pp.
Sigurdson R. (2012) Species profile – Bullheads. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, USA. 2pp.