Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

USGS Telemetry Project

December 1, 2020

Telemetry of acoustically tagged bigheaded carp (i.e., bighead carp Hypophthalmichthys nobilis and silver carp H. molitrix) and surrogate fish species has become an invaluable tool in management for these species in the upper Illinois Waterway Systems (i.e., upper Illinois River, lower Des Plaines River, and Chicago Area Waterway System). For example, movement probabilities between adjacent navigation pools need to be estimated to parameterize the Spatially Explicit Asian Carp Population Model (SEAcarP). SEAcarP is a population model used in scenario planning by the Monitoring and Response Workgroup (MRWG) to evaluate alternative management actions. These movement probabilities are estimated from the telemetry data obtained from a longitudinal network of strategically placed receivers that detect bigheaded carp that have been implanted with acoustic transmitters. In addition, fish removal by contracted fishers has become the primary method of controlling bigheaded carp in the upper Illinois and lower Des Plaines Rivers. Variable patterns in bigheaded carp distribution, habitat, and movement, influenced by seasonal and environmental conditions, make targeting bigheaded carp for removal and containment challenging and costly. Understanding these movement patterns for bigheaded carp through modeling and real-time telemetry applications informs removal efforts and facilitates monitoring and contingency actions based on fish movements.

To develop a better understanding of fish movement dynamics to meet management objectives, an existing network of real-time and data-logging acoustic receivers in the upper Illinois Waterway Systems is collaboratively managed by a multi-agency team (see Participating Agencies section above). A Telemetry Workgroup has been established by the MRWG to ensure that the multi-agency telemetry efforts are coordinated to efficiently and effectively meet the MRWG goals. This workgroup plans and executes the placement of receivers, tagging of bigheaded carp with acoustic tags, and management of the telemetry data. Three primary objectives to meet MRWG goals identified by the Telemetry Workgroup included (1) development of a common standardized telemetry database with visualization and analysis tools, (2) transitioning from Program MARK ( to a custom Bayesian multi-state model for estimating movement probabilities needed for SEAcarP and (3) deploying, maintaining, and serving data from real-time acoustic receivers to inform contingency planning and fish removal.

A telemetry database and visualization tools (FishTracks) will facilitate standardization, archiving, sharing, quality assurance, visualization and analysis of the telemetry data needed for management. Modifications and additions to FishTracks will facilitate more problem-free use of the database and associated applications, as well as useful extraction of information to meet management goals. The transition to a custom Bayesian multi-state model to estimate movement probabilities will support more efficient, effective, and robust population modeling with SEAcarP by overcoming short comings of Program MARK for this purpose. These shortcomings include lack of customizability and extensibility, problems of singularities and poor-convergence, software crashes, parameter exclusion from models, an inability to consistently generate estimates of movement probability, and a lack of uncertainty estimates for movement probabilities. A real-time receiver network that is maintained and tested annually will ensure reliability and accuracy of the real-time alerts to bigheaded carp movements that can be used by management to plan contingency actions.

Publication Year 2020
Title USGS Telemetry Project
Authors Brent C. Knights, Marybeth K. Brey, Jessica C. Stanton, Travis J. Harrison, Douglas Appel, Enrika Hlavacek, James J. Duncker
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype Organization Series
Series Title Interim Summary Report
Index ID 70225669
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center