Asian Carp Integrated Control and Containment: Development of Monitoring and Response Methodologies, and Implementation of an Adaptive Management Framework to Work Towards Eradication of Grass Carp in Lake Erie

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The US Geological Survey is studying life history and habitats of invasive Grass Carp with a goal of developing strategies and tactics to greatly reduce or possibly eradicate Grass Carp from Lake Erie.

The objectives of this project include: determine where, when and under what conditions Grass Carp spawn using early life stage sampling, hydraulic modeling, and drift simulations; assess cues and triggers of Grass Carp spawning; develop attractants and baits to lure or outright kill Grass Carp; and monitor and map aquatic vegetation, the primary food and non-spawning habitat of Grass Carp, to assess effects on habitat and inform control efforts.

Grass carp larva

Grass carp larva from the Maumee River in 2018. 

(Credit: student. Public domain.)

This research has confirmed spawning in the Sandusky and Maumee Rivers. Typical conditions conducive to spawning such as high rates of flow and water temperatures that exceed 19°C have been verified. Ovarian developmental stage of Grass Carp was studied in relation to temperature to determine potential triggers of spawning. The Fluvial Egg Drift Simulator model (FluEgg) was validated and used it to identify where, within a 2-km range, Grass Carp spawn in the Sandusky River. A similar model will be developed for the Maumee River once a suitable hydraulic model required as input to FluEgg is developed (data collection in 2019; completion in early 2020).

Remote sensing, hydroacoustics, and direct sampling were used to develop a 3-tier aquatic vegetation assessment tool for determining where Grass Carp habitat exists and to determine areas of high biomass and suitability of vegetation based on feeding preferences. Maps of aquatic vegetation have identified areas of suitable habitat that can be targeted for removal of Grass Carp and that can serve as areas to monitor for negative effects of Grass Carp herbivory. 

Toxic baits and delivery systems to target Grass Carp, such as pheromone and food attractants to be used as lures has been developed and is currently in the registration process. By understanding spawning triggers and preferred habitats, toxic baits may then be used for targeted removal of this invasive species in the Great Lakes.

This project was funded under the GLRI Invasive Species Focus Area to help prevent the spread of this invasive species. Accomplishments to date have informed directed sampling that has removed ~60 spawning adult Grass Carp. This work also supports prevention of spawning of Bighead Carp, Black Carp, and Silver Carp, which have similar reproductive requirements, in these and potentially other Lake Erie tributaries.

A heat map of vegetation showing high and low biomass of vegetation preferred by grass carp

A heat map of vegetation showing high (large green dots) and low (small red dots) biomass of vegetation preferred by Grass Carp

(Public domain.)

Publications:

  • Kocovsky, P. M., D. C. Chapman, and J. E. McKenna. 2012. Thermal and hydrologic suitability of Lake Erie and its major tributaries for spawning of Asian carp. Journal of Great Lakes Research 38:159-166. 
  • Chapman, D. C., J. J. Davis, J. A. Jenkins, P. M. Kocovsky, J. G. Miner, J. Farver, and P. R. Jackson. 2013. First evidence of grass carp recruitment in the Great Lakes basin. Journal of Great Lakes Research 39:547-554.    
  • Garcia, T., Jackson, P.R., Murphy, E.A., Valocchi, A.J., and Garcia. M.H. 2013. Development of a Fluvial Egg Drift Simulator to evaluate the transport and dispersion of Asian carp eggs in rivers. Ecol. Model. 263: 211–222. doi:10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2013.05.005
  • Murphy, E.A., and Jackson, P.R. 2013. Hydraulic and water-quality data collection for the investigation of Great Lakes tributaries for Asian carp spawning and egg-transport suitability. Urbana, 51: 61801–62347. 
  • Embke, H. S., P. M. Kočovský, T. Garcia, C. M. Mayer, and S. S. Qian. 2019. Modeling framework to estimate spawning and hatching locations of pelagically-spawned eggs. Submitted to Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 76:597-607. IP 087557, Bureau approval 2/28/2018.   
  • Kočovský, P. M., N. R. King, E. Weimer, C. M. Mayer, and S. S. Qian. In Review. Independent validation of the model-projected spawning area of Grass Carp in the Sandusky River. Journal of Great Lakes Research IP 109677

Partners:

Collaborations with USFWS, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Michigan DNR, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Ohio DNR, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, Bowling Green State University, Michigan State University, Southern Illinois University, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, University of Missouri, University of Toledo, and University of Toronto have been essential to sampling, modeling, and analysis of data in support of this work.