Chemical Attractant Investigations to Increase Aggregation and Harvest for the Control of Asian Carp

Science Center Objects

Silver Carp Hypophthalmichthys molitrix and Bighead Carp Hypophthalmichthys nobilis, hereafter referred to as bigheaded carps, are rapidly expanding their range. Federal agencies and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources are focused on keeping invasive carps out of the Great Lakes. The development of an effective attractant may assist managers with capturing carps in low-density areas such as the upper Illinois River near Chicago, where barrier defense to eliminate propagules is a top priority.

behavioral chamber

Choice chambers for behavioral experiments where two stimuli can be delivered without mixing.

(Public domain.)

The Issue: The USGS is part of the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee (ACRCC) and is focused on the research and development of techniques that could help managers better control Asian Carp populations. Techniques are needed to aggregate invasive carps so that they can be more effectively removed, especially in low-density areas of high priority.


Addressing the Issue: Preliminary studies conducted at CERC and by independent researchers have shown that some food stimulus may be attractive to filter-feeding bigheaded carps. Laboratory work will continue to identify additional attractants for larval, juvenile and adult Asian Carp species (Bighead and Silver Carp, Grass Carp and Black Carp) using an electro-olfactogram (EOG). Attractants that elicit a strong electric response will be further tested in mesocosms to identify behavioral responses. Cooperators at Joliet Junior College are simultaneously working to develop potential baits that could be used in conjunction with trap nets. The USGS is working with both Joliet Junior College and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to conduct field experiments to test the effectiveness of these baits.


Juvenile Silver Carp undergoing EOG testing

Juvenile Silver Carp undergoing EOG testing

(Public domain.)

Next Steps/Future Steps/Results: Development and field testing of baits will likely continue into 2019. Identification of attractants for each of the four species of Asian Carp using the EOG will also continue. Potentially effective attractants will be further tested in mesocosms to evaluate behavioral responses to the stimuli.











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