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Winter habitat selection and efficacy of telemetry to aid Grass Carp removal efforts in a large reservoir

January 24, 2022

Grass Carp Ctenopharyngodon idella were introduced in North America to control aquatic vegetation in small, closed systems. However, when they escape into larger systems in which they can reproduce, they have the potential to cause significant declines and alterations in aquatic vegetation communities. These alterations can in turn affect native species that are dependent on aquatic vegetation. Increased captures and observations of spawning have elevated concerns about Grass Carp establishment in new locations, with particular concern for establishment in Lake Erie and its tributaries. Recent efforts using telemetered fish that co-locate with wild conspecifics, sometimes in aggregations that are susceptible to harvest, have been used successfully to control invasive Common Carp Cyprinus carpio populations. If Grass Carp aggregate in winter similarly to Common Carp, they might be susceptible to similar control or harvest methods. During the winters (December–March) of 2017–2019, we tracked 86 Grass Carp tagged with acoustic transmitters in Truman Reservoir, Missouri, to evaluate winter habitat selection and to determine the effectiveness of using tagged fish in locating and removing wild fish by comparing harvest at locations of tagged fish to harvest at control sites that we believed were suitable Grass Carp habitat. Discrete-choice models showed that Grass Carp exhibited strong selection for shallow water, as 75% of locations were in littoral habitats with depths of 3 m or less. On average, we harvested more fish at sites where tagged fish were located (3.6 fish/attempt) than at control sites (1.2 fish/attempt). Full guts in individuals that were harvested may indicate that fish were using shallow-water habitats to feed. Our results suggested that Grass Carp did not usually form large winter aggregations, and although targeting locations with tagged fish slightly increased harvest success compared to efforts without them, efforts to reduce populations via harvest may be difficult in large systems when fish are widely dispersed.

Publication Year 2023
Title Winter habitat selection and efficacy of telemetry to aid Grass Carp removal efforts in a large reservoir
DOI 10.1002/nafm.10693
Authors Tyler Michael Hessler, Duane Chapman, Craig Paukert, Jeff C. Jolley, Michael E. Byrne
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title North American Journal of Fisheries Management
Index ID 70227640
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Columbia Environmental Research Center