Developing food attractants for silver carp that can be used to induce aggregation and control them: a new biochemical tool

Project manager: Peter Sorensen

Phase I Description: This project will identify and develop chemical food attractants for Asian carp that could be used with the poison nanoparticles currently being developed by the USGS laboratory. Understanding how to optimize food and sex pheromones function in the lab will allow researchers to develop ways to apply sensory cues to attract carp and stimulate aggregation.

In addition to knowing where these mobile and invasive fish are, we would ideally also be able to stimulate them to aggregate in specific locations using attractants. Common carp and Asian carp are social animals that tend to aggregate, so this approach has great promise. Furthermore, initial work with radio-tagged common carp has already demonstrated that these fish will quickly locate aggregating groups of conspecifics in the winter when the entire group can be located and removed by seining (Judas fish technique). We will also develop food and /or sex pheromone attractants (that could even be released by Judas fish) to stimulate aggregations outside of the winter months in ways we can also control.

Project start date: 2012

Estimated project end date: 2016, Phase 2 to continue through 2018

Progress and updates:

New peer-reviewed paper provides insights into Asian carp feeding success and offers opportunities for control (MAISRC newsletter)

Anatomical and physiological studies of bigheaded carps demonstrate that the epibranchial organ functions as a pharyngeal taste organ (Published paper)

Phase 2: Attracting carp so their presence can be accurately assessed

Phase II Description: MAISRC researchers are currently working to prevent adult bigheaded (Asian) carp from migrating upstream from the lower Mississippi River using acoustic deterrents and modifying gate operations. Because this needs to be very strategic and efficient, MAISRC must have extremely accurate information on the abundance of adult invasive carp in the area.

This project aims to remedy the deficiencies currently associated with eDNA by developing new techniques to cause predictable aggregations of adult invasive carps. This will facilitate their accurate measurement using eDNA and pheromones or alternately their being trapped and removed.

This research will examine the possibility of causing aggregations using both sexual and feeding cues.

In order to develop reliable and practical ways of using sexual stimuli to find carp, researchers will artificially induce female sexual behavior and sex pheromone release using hormone implants. They will then determine if they can track these aggregations using eDNA measurements and sex pheromone concentrations. They will also test the possibility that a Judas fish (a sterilized fish equipped with a tracking device) could be used both to drive an aggregation and/or track it. Additionally, researchers will test whether food or a synthesized compound could drive aggregations of carp.

Project start date: 2015

Estimated project end date: 2018

Updates and progress: