A couple weeks ago we shared a story about how robots are delivering pizzas on college campuses. This week, robots are at it again, but this time they aren’t delivering pizza, they’re saving fish populations. Mosquitofish, an invasive species, have expanded rapidly in lakes and rivers across the U.S. and are posing a threat to delicate ecosystems and their native species.
Researchers at Porfiri’s Dynamical Systems Laboratory have developed robotic fish which resemble the mosquitofish’s natural predator – largemouth bass – and are using them to induce stress in populations to limit their reproduction. The robot fish have not been exposed to wild populations, but in laboratories, mosquitofish which are exposed to the “predators” for 15 minutes a day display reduced energy stores and less reproductive tendencies.
Maintaining native ecosystems in balance can be difficult in the face of climate change and man-made disturbances, but these robotic fish could be the solution to reducing invasive populations without disturbing native dwellers. So if you see a robotic fish in the water on your next lake trip, don’t worry, it’s just science hard at work!