Benthic Mapping – Illinois River Benthic Mapping to Support Invasive Asian Carp Research

Science Center Objects

According to the 2016 Monitoring and Response Plan for Asian carp in the Mississippi River Basin, there is little to no information regarding Asian carp behavior and habitat use in invaded areas (1). There are some studies and anecdotal information showing that Asian carp are occurring in certain macrohabitats, specifically the main channel border during low summer flows and backwaters during winter (2). However, why specific areas in channel borders or backwaters are preferred over others is not apparent from this information. Remote sensing technologies, such as high-resolution sonars, can be used to collect more detailed information about benthic characteristics of these macrohabitats in the Illinois River to inform invasive species removal efforts. These characteristics include: high resolution bathymetry, micro and macro benthic structure from bathymetry and side scan images. These aspects of the benthic and water column are known to affect fish, including Asian carp behavior and distribution. 

Benthic Mapping

Figure 1. Triangulated irregular network (TIN) example of the high-resolution bathymetry collected with multibeam sonar. The bathymetry is generally around 0.5m resolution.

(Public domain.)

Benthic habitat maps of the Illinois River are developed using high-resolution sonar technologies with geographic information systems (GIS) and object-based image analysis. These benthic maps for the Illinois River specifically support Asian carp research, monitoring, and control. The entire study plan will consist of data collection and analysis of the Brandon, Dresden, Starved Rock, Marseilles, Peoria, and La Grange. The reaches with larger aquatic areas (Peoria and La Grange) will map priority areas and backwaters while filling in the main channel data with USACE collected data. 

The objective of this project is to use a combination of multibeam sonar and side scan imagery to describe microhabitat features of benthic and pelagic habitats of the Illinois River that are preferentially used by Asian carp. Examples of geospatial products are shown in figures 1, 2 and 3.

 

underwater features

Figure 2. Example landform classification generated from open source object-based image analysis. This is an example dataset that would be used to help classify benthic habitats.

(Public domain.)

underwater features

Figure 3. Example of eCognition using feature extraction to identify difference sin substrate of the Illinois River.

(Public domain.)

Each year specific study pool(s) will be surveyed. Locations will be selected based off the expertise of partners who do exclusive Asian carp sampling, mitigation and removal. An industry grade multibeam sonar will be mounted on a shallow-water 18’ boat. To ensure the safety of staff and equipment, areas of the river that are shallower than one meter are not surveyed. A simple commercial grade sonar will also be used to collect side scan. Once areas have been surveyed, they will be validated using a commercial grade underwater camera. Example equipment and boat images are shown in figure 4, 5 and 6.

multibeam sonar, boat, staff, mount

Figure 4. The UMESC staff mounting a multibeam sonar onto boat before data collection.

(Public domain.)

multibeam sonar, boat, mount

Figure 5.Multibeam sonar mounted on flat bottom boat and ready for surveying. 

(Public domain.)

Benthic Mapping

Figure 6. A UMESC biologist, Jenny Hanson, is navigating the Illinois River while collecting high-resolution multibeam bathymetry.

(Public domain.)

References:

1. Mississippi Interstate Cooperative Resource Association & Asian Carp Advisory Committee. (2016). Monitoring and Response Plan for Asian Carp in the Mississippi River Basin. Retrieved from http://www.asiancarp.us/documents/MRP2016Mississippi%20RiverBasin.pdf

1. DeGrandchamp, Kelly L., Garvey, James E. and Colombo, Robert E. "Movement and Habitat Selection by Invasive Asian Carps in a Large River." (Jan 2008).

2. Koel, T. M., K. S. Irons, and E. Ratcliff. 2000. Asian carp invasion of the upper Mississippi River system. U.S. Geological Survey, Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center, Project Status Report 2000-05, LaCrosse, Wisconsin.