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Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center

Relationship between environmental DNA and fish movement and spawning with Asian carp in the Wabash River

Principal Investigators: Jon Amberg

Impact of UMESC Science

The results of this study will advance our understanding of environmental DNA (eDNA) and how eDNA signatures change as fish behavior changes over the course of the open water season.  This will further develop eDNA as an easy sampling method to collect information about invading populations or cryptic species that are difficult to capture so that resource managers can be given better information to aid in management decisions.


Environmental DNA (eDNA) sampling is currently in use as an early detection tool to monitor several aquatic invasive species. Since 2011, it has been developed to monitor the Asian carp invasion front as it approaches the Great Lakes.  This technology is still relatively new and our understanding and deployment of it are constantly being improved to collect more detailed and accurate information faster.  Beyond the ability to detect species at low abundance, it also can be used for gathering information about populations of interest in a non-invasive manner.

In collaboration with researchers from Purdue University, extensive eDNA sampling was carried out along transects at different sites of the Wabash River, Indiana where a thriving population of Asian carp exist. Along with eDNA data, observations were made of when the Asian carp were spawning, and telemetry data was collected for many tagged fish as they moved with the other Asian carp past recorders at multiple sites. This study examines eDNA detection over time and applies statistical methodologies to find the relationship between changes in eDNA and fish movement and spawning activities.


Understand how eDNA detection is affected by Asian carp movement and spawning activities.

Figure 2. Asian carp captured on the Wabash River.

Figure 2. Asian carp captured on the Wabash River.

Figure 1. USGS Scientist labels asian carp samples.

Figure 1. USGS Scientist labels asian carp samples.


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