Evaluation of a broadband sound as a deterrent for bigheaded carps at the Emiquon Preserve (Lewistown, Illinois)

Science Center Objects

Expansion of bigheaded carps Hypophthalmichthys spp. throughout North American waterways have prompted the need for control systems that can alter their movement and/or behavior. The avoidance response of bigheaded carps to the sound of an outboard motor (0.06-10 kHz) has lead researchers to investigate sound as a means to manipulate their movements. 

Much of the previous research has focused on preventing expansion though lock and dams of the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers. However, there is also a need to investigate the ability to herd bigheaded carps into confined areas for harvesting as well as prevent them from entering areas of interest or importance. In controlled laboratory and pond experiments, both silver carp Hypophthalmichthys molitrix and bighead carp Hypophthalmichthys nobilis exhibit avoidance responses when exposed to underwater playback of a broadband sound (boat motor).  Results of these trials strongly indicate that the broadband tone is an effective tool in manipulating the behavior of bigheaded carps in a controlled environment.  However, there is still a need to investigate the efficacy of broadband sound on a larger scale and in a natural setting.  We seek to assess the use of a broadband sound for deterring bigheaded carps from entering a pristine aquatic ecosystem devoid of their presence.   

USGS scientists installing sound equipment to deter bighead carp in Lewiston, Illinois.

USGS scientists installing sound equipment to deter bighead carp in Lewiston, Illinois

(Credit: Kelsey Murchy, Upper Midwest Environmental Science Center. Public domain.)



1. Determine the efficacy of a broadband sound to deter bigheaded carps from Emiquon Preserve in Lewistown, IL.

2. Determine if the use of a broadband sound will impact the passage of native fish species entering or exiting Emiquon Preserve through the constructed Nature Conservancy’s Water Control Structures (WCS).

3. Determine when bigheaded carps habituate to continuous exposure of a broadband sound projected at 160 dB.



1. The use of a broadband sound will deter both silver and bighead carp from entering the Emiquon Preserve though the WCS in Lewistown, IL. 

2. Native fish species present near the entrance of the Emiquon Preserve will not be deterred from entering or exiting the Preserve through the WCS with the use of a broadband sound. 

3. Continuous projection of a single broadband sound, projected at 160 decibels (dB), will lead to habituation of the stimulus and in effect, the efficacy of the sound deterrent will diminish over time.