Asian Carp Risk Assessment and Life History: Assessment of Hydraulic and Water-Quality Influences on Waterways to Develop Control Options

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USGS scientists monitored the distribution of the Asian carp populations within the pools of the Illinois River to help identify favorable habitats. Sharp contrasts in habitat, flow conditions, water quality, and food supply between the Marseilles and Dresden Island Pools and the Chicago Area Waterway System may be acting as controlling factors to the stalled upstream movement of Asian carp into the Great Lakes. 

This project investigates the influence of habitat stimuli, such as river hydraulics and water-quality, on the population range, movement, and spawning and recruitment success of Asian carps. A deeper understanding of how Asian carps interact with the hydraulics and water quality of a river will inform efforts to control Asian carps through management of habitat factors (https://www.usgs.gov/centers/glri/science/asian-carp-risk-assessment-and-life-history?qt-science_center_objects=0#qt-science_center_objects). The project objectives are to (1) determine the natural and managed controlling factors that contribute to the movement of bigheaded carps within the pools of the Illinois Waterway (IWW) and how one or more of these factors could be used to prevent future movement or to reduce bigheaded carps populations, and (2) build on the Fluvial Egg Drift Simulator (FluEgg) model of Asian carp egg and larval transport in order to provide better predictions of carp population growth in a river. Enhanced predictive capabilities will contribute to larger scale control efforts and the application of new control technologies.

USGS staff member preparing for hydraulic and water-quality testing. 

USGS staff member preparing for hydraulic and water-quality testing. 

(Public domain.)

Scientists analyzed water-quality samples collected on four occasions at 7 sites along the IWW for 639 parameters including Anthropogenic Bioactive Chemicals (ABC) (pharmaceuticals, personal care products, pesticides, hormones, industrial chemicals, disinfection byproducts). In collaboration with researchers at the University of Illinois, tissue samples were collected from bighead carp caught in 2018 by commercial fishermen near the leading edge of the population front in the IWW. Liver samples are being analyzed using a transcriptomic approach using RNA sequencing and analysis of plasma variables (following the methods of https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cbd.2019.100614). Scientists are developing continuous, long-term records of water-quality including temperature, specific conductance, dissolved oxygen, pH, turbidity, chlorophyll, phycocyanin, and nitrate in the main channel and a backwater of the Illinois River to understand invasive carp response to changes in water-quality and guide ongoing control efforts.  Scientists collected hydrographic data (bathymetry, three-dimensional water velocities, and some basic water-quality data) at numerous sites throughout the IWW. These data were used to generate maps of bathymetry, depth-averaged velocities, and water-quality distributions to guide and inform ongoing control efforts.   

Of the over 639 constituents sample in the IWW, 280 were detected at least once, including many ABCs such as pesticides, pharmaceuticals, hormones, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Pharmaceuticals, disinfection byproducts and wastewater indicators were all highest above the leading edge of the stalled Asian carp population front in the IWW. Scientists used the FluEgg model with a reverse-time particle tracking (RTPT) algorithm to identify probable spawning locations for Asian carp in the IWW. Tailwater sections below the Locks and Dams (L&Ds) in each navigation pool appear to be preferred spawning locations for Silver Carp and the most upstream spawning location for the June 2015 spawning period was in the upper Marseilles navigation pool, downstream of the Dresden Island L&D. The FluEgg model was used to inform a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) assessment of the vulnerability of the Chicago Area Waterway System and Des Plaines River to Asian carp spawning and recruitment.  FluEgg predicted that approximately 80 percent of silver carp eggs hypothetically spawned near the electric dispersal barrier would hatch within the Lockport and Brandon Road pools (as close as 3.6 miles downstream of the barrier) and approximately 82 percent of the silver carp eggs spawned near the Brandon Road Dam would hatch in the Des Plaines River (as close as 1.6 miles downstream from the gates of Brandon Road Lock). Furthermore, eggs spawned at the electric dispersal barrier would reach the gas bladder inflation stage primarily within the Dresden Island Pool, and those spawned at the Brandon Road Dam would reach this stage primarily within the Marseilles and Starved Rock Pools.

In unregulated rivers such as the Wabash River (IN), scientists learned that Silver Carp tend to occupy areas that were warmer, deeper, and had lower water velocities. However, they also avoided velocities less than 20 cm/s. Further, droughts could serve to concentrate Silver Carp into very specific habitats, further increasing harvest efficiency. This information can be used by management agencies to target removal efforts and improve early detection (e.g., eDNA) in environments where Silver Carp may invade or occur in low densities.

 

USGS Staff member preparing for hydraulic and water quality testing

USGS staff member preparing for hydraulic and water-quality testing. 

(Public domain.)

Publications

Duncker, J.J. 2016, Velocity Mapping with an acoustic Doppler current profiler (ADCP) in the Illinois River and Des Plaines River: U.S. Geological Survey data release, http://dx.doi.org/10.5066/F74T6GDK.

Duncker, J.J., Battaglin, W.A., Terrio, P.J., and Barber, L.B., 2017, Laboratory results for anthropogenic bioactive chemicals in the Illinois Waterway upstream and downstream of the bigheaded carp population front (2015): U.S. Geological Survey data release, https://doi.org/10.5066/F77S7M7Z.

Duncker, J.J., Johnson, K.K., and Sharpe, J.B., 2017, Data for Bathymetric Survey of Lake Calumet, Cook County, Illinois: U.S. Geological Survey data release, https://doi.org/10.5066/F70C4TZD.

Duncker, J.J., and Sharpe, J.B., 2017, Bathymetric survey of Rock Run Rookery Lake, Will County, Illinois: U.S. Geological Survey data release, https://doi.org/10.5066/F7765CJG.

Duncker, J.J., and Terrio, P.J., 2017, Water-quality sampling plan for evaluating the distribution of bigheaded carps in the Illinois Waterway: U.S. Geological Survey Open File Report 2017–1019, 9 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20171019.

Murphy, E.A., Garcia, Tatiana, Jackson, P.R., and Duncker J.J., 2016, Simulation of hypothetical Asian carp egg and larvae development and transport in the Lockport, Brandon Road, Dresden Island, and Marseilles Pools of the Illinois Waterway by use of the fluvial egg drift simulator (FluEgg) model: U.S. Geological Survey Open File Report 2016–1011, 19 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/ofr20161011.

Prechtel, A.R., Coulter, A.A., Etchison, L., Jackson, P.R., and Goforth, R.R., 2017, Range estimates and habitat use of invasive Silver Carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix): evidence of sedentary and mobile individuals: Hydrobiologia, v. 805, pp. 203-218, (https://doi.org/10.1007/s10750-017-3296-y).

Zhu, Z., Soong, D.T., Garcia, T., Behrouz, M.S., Butler, S.E., Murphy, E.A., Diana, M.J., Duncker, J.J., and Wahl, D.H., 2018, Using reverse-time egg transport analysis for predicting Asian carp spawning grounds in the Illinois River: Ecological Modelling, v. 284, pp. 53-62, (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2018.06.003).

 

Contributions

This project was funded under the Invasive Species Focus Area to help protect the Great Lakes from invasive Asian carps

 

Partners

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)

Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS)

Illinois Department of Natural Resources (Il DNR)

Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MI DNR)

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC)

Purdue University

Ball State University

University at Buffalo