common carp

Common carp are one of Minnesota’s most ubiquitous invasive species, but researchers at MAISRC have made significant strides toward controlling them. These accomplishments show that success with invasive species is possible. All species have weaknesses that can be targeted for control, we just have to look closely to find them. Click here to learn more about common carp and their impacts.

Key findings and accomplishments

  • Succeeded in controlling carp populations in the Riley and Phalen watersheds, using a combination of tools including seining, removal at barriers sites in streams, and winter aeration
  • Completed first-of-their-kind controlled experiments and confirmed that bluegills could be harnessed to reduce common carps’ reproductive success by consuming their eggs and larvae
  • Developed state-of-the-art carp transgenesis capabilities in our Containment Lab so researchers have year-round access to young carp embryos for research into developing a synthetic barrier to    reproduction that will lead to sterile offspring
  • Found that carp can be trained to aggregate in specific areas of lakes using food, providing opportunities for a bait-and-switch method of control using toxins
  • Found that common carp do not have the ability to avoid bait that contains toxins, a precursor to using the bait-and-switch method for control
  • Confirmed the presence of Carp Edema Virus for the first time in Minnesota. We are learning more about this virus, along with Koi Herpes Virus,  and considering their potential as biocontrol agents for carp
  • Determined the biomass threshold at which carp become damaging to lake ecosystems, which allows managers to set clear management goals
  • Used winter seining to remove up to 90% of adult carp in lakes by targeting aggregations
  • Developed rapid-assessment methods to estimate carp biomass in lakes using boat electrofishing
  • Discovered that common carp regenerate their reproductive organs approximately a year following gonadectomy, an unexpected finding following efforts to develop the Judas fish technique
  • Conducted an analysis across hundreds of lakes and found that carp may have stronger effect on water quality than land use, and that carp removal may restore water quality even in agricultural watersheds
  • Discovered that sex pheromones can be used to locate carp and attract them for removal
  • Determined that common carp return to home lakes to spawn, like salmon, which is important for selecting locations to disrupt their life cycle
  • Established that eDNA concentrations were very high where common carp densities were high, but dropped precipitously in time and space, suggesting eDNA decays very quickly
  • Used common carp as an assay to optimize techniques to capture and extract environmental DNA for detection and quantification of fish
  • Implemented a successful control plan in the Riley Chain of Lakes and the Phalen Chain of Lakes; including seining fish once they are aggregated, using bluegill sunfish to consume carp eggs and larvae, and using aeration to prevent winterkills
  • Identified two novel viruses from common carp and grass carp mortality events: novel picornavirus and novel paramyxovirus
common carp

Published papers

Ongoing research

  • Harnessing naturally occurring carp viruses for biocontrol
  • Adapting stream barriers to remove carp during their seasonal migrations
  • Introducing a synthetic barrier to reproduction that will lead to sterile offspring
  • Developing a species-specific toxin delivery system to control populations
  • Testing the limits of biocontrol options to determine if they are feasible in hypereutrophic lakes
  • Conducting virus discovery using Next Gen Sequencing and culturing potential pathogens for biocontrol
common carp