Effects of Adult Biomass and Environmental Conditions on Bigheaded Carp Reproductive Output

Weber, Michael
Weber, Michael
Matthews, Aaron
Pierce, Clay
Pierce, Clay
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Natural Resource Ecology and Management

Bighead Carp Hypothalmichthys nobilis and Silver Carp Hypothalmichthys moltrix (hereafter collectively referred to as Bigheaded Carp) have spread throughout the majority of the Mississippi River since the 1970s. The current northern invasion edge of Bigheaded Carp in the Upper Mississippi River (UMR) spans between Pools 14 and 20 because of limited passage at Lock and Dam (LD) 19. Mechanisms limiting adult Bigheaded Carp abundance above LD19 are unknown but may be due in part to lack of reproductive success influenced by adult abundance and environmental factors. Our objective was to investigate how relative adult biomass and river temperature and discharge affect maximum annual Bigheaded Carp larval production in the UMR using a Ricker stock-recruitment model. Adult Bigheaded Carp relative biomass (kg/h) was estimated annually with boat electrofishing and larvae were collected every 10 d between May and August 2014–2017 in Pools 14–20 in the UMR. Adult relative biomass ranged from 0.0 to 880.9 kg/h, whereas maximum annual larval densities ranged from 0.0 to 2,869.4 larvae/m3. After accounting for variability among pools and years, the most supported linear Ricker stock-recruitment model indicated the number of recruits per spawner decreased with increasing adult relative biomass and increased with mean discharge. Our results highlight the importance of adult biomass and river discharge conditions for reproduction of Bigheaded Carp along leading edges of invasion. Management strategies that aim to maintain low adult abundance where reproduction is not yet occurring could help limit population increases via reproduction, whereas reducing high adult biomass (e.g., commercial harvest, barriers) may result in greater Bigheaded Carp reproductive output in the UMR.


Weber MJ, Matthews A, Pierce CL. 2021. Effects of adult biomass and environmental conditions on Bigheaded Carp reproductive output. Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management 12(2):xx–xx; e1944-687X. https://doi.org/10.3996/ JFWM-20-068.