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Identifying the best rivers in the Great Lakes region for Asian carp eggs

May 26, 2015

A bighead carp at the Shedd Aquarium.
Credit Rebecca Williams / Michigan Radio

Researchers with the U.S. Geological Survey want to find out where Asian carp eggs will have the most success.

They’re using a model nicknamed FluEgg to predict which rivers in the Great Lakes region are the most suitable for Asian carp to reproduce. The fish are not established here yet, but scientists want to be ready in case they do get in and get comfortable.

Elizabeth Murphy is a hydrologist with the USGS. She says they know more about controlling adult Asian carp, but they know less about eggs.

“Asian carp eggs are kind of the missing link when we talk about developing control strategies for Asian carp, so we’re hoping that we can use this information so that some sort of response to Asian carp spawning could occur,” she says.

She says they recently looked at the St. Joseph River in Michigan. So far, they've found Asian carp eggs would do the best when streamflow is low and the water is warm.

Murphy says they've also examined the Sandusky River and the Illinois River.

Here's more information from the USGS:

The FluEgg model was used to evaluate egg movement and the likelihood of successful Asian carp reproduction under different streamflow and temperature conditions representative of historical spawning seasons in the St. Joseph River, a tributary to Lake Michigan. Results show that eggs develop faster at warmer water temperatures, therefore requiring less time to drift in the river until hatching. Low streamflows can also be conducive to reproduction when the streamflow is just fast enough to keep most of the eggs in suspension while allowing for the greatest amount of drift time before reaching the lake, thus increasing the likelihood of hatching.