UT Student Discovers Asian Carp Spawning in Great Lakes Tributary

Published: Jun. 2, 2016 at 4:52 PM EDT
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A graduate student at the University of Toledo found proof that one type of invasive Asian carp is spawning in a Great Lakes tributary.

Holly Embke collected eight grass carp eggs last summer in the Sandusky River, which flows into Lake Erie.

Her findings were recently published in the Journal of Great Lakes Research.

The U.S. Geological Survey previously reported that four young grass carp taken from the river had resulted from natural reproduction.

Grass carp can impact the habitat by eating aquatic plants. But unlike bighead and silver carp threatening from the Mississippi River basin, they don’t compete with native fish.

Scientists next plan to study grass carp spawning in the Sandusky River to help keep bighead and silver carp out of the Great Lakes. A crew from UT was back on the Sandusky River on Thursday trying to find more grass carp eggs.

“If we know where and when they're spawning, we can more effectively control the species,” Embke said. “We can also use that information to control the species of greater concern … those big head and silver carp.”

“Given the similarities in reproductive strategies, this ongoing research on grass carp spawning may help us minimize the risk of bighead carp and silver carp from establishing a foothold in the Great Lakes,” said Patrick Kocovsky, a USGS research fishery biologist. “What we learn here also might apply to potential control strategies in tributaries to the Mississippi River.”

Embke plans to present her research at a conference next week in Canada.