Glover and Marschall receive USGS grant to study Asian Carp

January 13, 2014
Dr. Dave Glover and Dr. Libby Marschall received funding from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), appropriated by Southern Illinois University (SIU), to assist with evaluating integrated pest management strategies for controlling Asian carp, an invasive species that now dominates the fish community in much of the Mississippi River Basin.  In this study, Glover and Marschall will collaborate with researchers and biologists from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Southern Illinois University (SIU), and Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) to determine the effect of seismic water gun technology, feeding attractants, and harvest on the density and abundance of Asian carp in a densely populated backwater near Morris, IL.
Seismic water gun technology has proven lethal to other non-native fish, rupturing their gas bladder and other internal organs (Gross et al. 2013).  It has been less lethal to Asian carp as a result of their relatively tough gas bladders.  The intended effect, therefore, is to use this technology to affect the behavior of these fish to our advantage rather than to induce mortality.  Specifically, seismic water guns are being evaluated as a barrier to movement of Asian carp to either keep them from entering an area, or to trap them in an area potentially making them more susceptible to harvest or other lethal measures.  The team is particularly interested in the effective distance of this acoustic barrier relative to before, during, and after water gun firing and whether Asian carp become acclimated over repeated firing of the guns.
Results from controlled laboratory feeding trials conducted by the USGS have provided promising results in attracting Asian carp to a specific area.  If these results are supported in the field, feeding attractants could play a vital role in concentrating Asian carp into areas where they would be more susceptible to lethal measures.  This study aims to determine the ability of these feeding attractants to change the spatial distribution of Asian carp in a real-world situation.  These data will be compared before, during, and after the application of feeding attractants.
Immediately following the feeding trials, water guns will be deployed to act as a barrier.  Intense harvest of Asian carp will occur in five predetermined sections over multiple days by contracted commercial fishermen and IDNR biologist as observers to collect detailing information of harvest locations and harvest. Asian carp density and abundance will be compared in these sections before and after harvest events.  Knowledge of the spatial distribution and abundance of Asian carp prior to harvest and the number harvested will provide useful insight into commercial fisherman capture efficiency of Asian carp, which may help to parameterize future modeling endeavors in the ongoing fight against these non-native fishes.
Literature cited:
Gross, J.A., K.M. Irvine, S. Wilmoth, T.L. Wagner, P.A. Shields, and J.R. Fox. 2013. The effects of pulse pressure from seismic water gun technology on Northern Pike. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 142:1335-1346.
Additional information: