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Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center

Aquatic Invasive Species Control

Assessing life history traits of Asian carp in established and emerging populations to identify and characterize vulnerabilities that can be exploited for control.

Principal Investigator: Brent Knights and Duane Chapman

Impact of UMESC Science

The results from these studies will provide baseline information about habitat, feeding and recruitment constraints of bigheaded Asian carp (genus Hypophthalmichthys) that will allow for the successful development and application of control measures to limit the ecological and economic impacts of these fishes.


Bigheaded carps – bighead and silver carp (two Asian carp species) – are present in much of the Mississippi River system threatening native fish, mussels, and their food sources. A variety of control techniques are needed to limit the spread of Asian carp and lessen their impacts where already established. A better understanding of the life history traits of bigheaded carps in areas with established (e.g., Illinois River) and emerging populations (e.g., Upper Mississippi River) is necessary to identify vulnerabilities that can be exploited within an integrated pest management (IPM) program. In particular, understanding the seasonal habitat use and behaviors (e.g., feeding, spawning and schooling) of adult bigheaded carps at invasion fronts, and where well established, is necessary for safe and effective application of control agents, selective removal by harvesting, predator stocking, or barriers within an IPM program. In addition, understanding the characteristics (e.g., abundance, composition, and size) of the microscopic food particles (seston) of bigheaded carps and native filter feeding fish (planktivores) is necessary to inform the development and application of control agents in microparticles targeted for consumption by bigheaded carps. Finally, identifying habitats and potential predators of larval and juvenile Asian carp, life stages that might act as a population bottlenecks, would inform other potential IPM tools including habitat manipulations, stocking strategies and chemical or biological controls that might reduce Asian carp abundance.


  1. To achieve a better understanding of habitats and behaviors of adult Asian carp and native planktivores to inform IPM. (Study Investigators Brent Knights and Duane Chapman)
  2. To assess characteristics of seston-related food availability and selectivity for adult Asian carp and native planktivores to inform the development of microparticle control agent delivery. (Study Investigator William Richardson)
  3. To determine potential recruitment constraints of bigheaded carps, including those related to embryo survival, and habitat use and predation of juvenile Asian carp to inform IPM. (Study Investigators James Larson, Duane Chapman and James Lamer)

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