Does fish herding enhance catch rates and detection of invasive bigheaded carp?
Fish herding (driving fish into nets) is used by commercial fishers to increase harvest of invasive bigheaded carp (Hypophthalmichthys spp.), yet has not been widely adopted for fisheries monitoring purposes. We conducted an experiment to assess whether fish herding using percussive sound or electrical stimuli can enhance catch rates and detection of bigheaded carp and other fishes in surface-to-bottom gill nets. Catch rates (fish net set−1) from traditional gill net sets where no herding method was applied were compared to sets combined with either sound stimuli (physical impacts to the boat hull and water surface to produce percussive sound) or electricity produced from a pulsed-DC electrofisher to manipulate fish movements. For most species, herding increased catch rates and detection probability compared to control sets. Sound stimuli increased catch rates of Silver Carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix) by over three times, whereas electrical stimuli increased catch rates by over six times. Catch of Bighead Carp (Hypophthalmichthys nobilis) was highest in nets paired with sound stimuli. Herding methods also reduced the number of samples required to attain target detection probabilities for bigheaded carp. Herding techniques combined with gill netting may be a valuable option for targeted bigheaded carp sampling, especially when electrofishing or netting alone is ineffective for these evasive fishes. Synergistic methods may provide a cost effective means of improving detection probabilities for bigheaded carp at their invasion front or other locations where densities are low and uncertainty of capture is high.
KeywordsAsian carp Detection probability Electrofishing Gill nets Hypophthalmichthys Introduced species Rivers
This study was supported by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (CAFWS-93), with funding administered through the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. We thank K. Irons, M. O’Hara, D. Wyffels, J. Mick, and V. Santucci for their assistance with this project. We are grateful to the numerous individuals who provided the field and laboratory assistance to make this project possible, including the staff of the Kaskaskia, Sam Parr, and Illinois River Biological Stations, and graduate students at the University of Illinois and Eastern Illinois University. All fishes were sampled and handled in compliance with federal, state, and university regulations. This study was conducted under University of Illinois Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee protocol #11053.
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