Date of Award

5-1-2023

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department

Zoology

First Advisor

Whitledge, Gregory

Abstract

Aquatic invasive species are a widespread issue throughout the central United States. Black Carp (Mylopharyngodon piceus) are an aquatic invasive species and are an issue due to their unknown ecological and biological impacts that they may cause to the environment that they invade. Determining movements of an aquatic invasive species such as dam passage or inter-river movement may aid in agency efforts to reduce the spread of an invasive or implement strategies to mitigate its potential expanding range. In this study, I used otolith microchemistry paired with water samples to infer movement and dam passage of Black Carp between eight study regions within the Mississippi River basin. A total of 127 Black Carp otoliths were used and 112 (88%) were classified as immigrants, 14 were classified as potential residents, and one otolith was vateritic so no inferences about movement could be made for that fish. Of the 112 fish classified as potential immigrants, 102 (91%) showed signs of upstream dam passage, and the average instance a Black Carp was inferred to move between rivers was 7 times during their lifetime (SD ± 6.23). These results show that Black Carp may exhibit frequent occurrences of inter-river movement throughout their lives and have high instances of dam passage associated with their movement. This paper presents the first confirming evidence of lock and dam passage by Black Carp, although the apparently expanding range of the species in recent years based on reported captures suggested that lock and dam passage had likely occurred. Evidence of frequent upstream movement and lock and dam passage suggests that future studies should evaluate the efficacy of potential deterrents at locks and dams for preventing or reducing upstream passage by Black Carp.

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