Robofish to the Rescue!

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Robotic Fish Are This Invasive Species’ ‘Worst Nightmare’

by Rasha Aridi/Smithsonianmag.com

Mosquitofish may look small and unassuming, but don’t let appearances fool you: these invasive fish are menaces. Outside of their range, they outcompete other freshwater critters—like fishes and tadpoles—and feast on their eggs. Since they don’t have any natural predators beyond their range, their population goes unchecked as they wreak havoc on native wildlife, Charlotte Hu reports for Popular Science.

For decades, scientists scratched their heads trying to figure out how to control mosquitofish in a way that doesn’t also harm the ecosystem—a seemingly impossible feat. But they’ve finally had a breakthrough with a terrifying new tool meant to intimidate mosquitofish: a robotic fish, Livia Albeck-Ripka reports for the New York Times. The researchers reported their findings this week in the journal iScience.

“Instead of killing them one by one, we’re presenting an approach that can inform better strategies to control this global pest,” lead author Giovanni Polverino, a biologist at the University of Western Australia, says in a press release. “We made their worst nightmare become real: a robot that scares the mosquitofish but not the other animals around it.”

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