Journal of Great Lakes Research

Tributary use and large-scale movements of grass carp in Lake Erie

Publication date: Available online 8 January 2020

Source: Journal of Great Lakes Research

Author(s): Cleyo Harris, Travis O. Brenden, Chris S. Vandergoot, Matthew D. Faust, Seth J. Herbst, Charles C. Krueger


Infrequent captures of invasive, non-native grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella) have occurred in Lake Erie over the last 30+ years, with recent evidence suggesting wild reproduction in the lake’s western basin (WB) is occurring. Information on grass carp movements in the Laurentian Great Lakes is lacking, but an improved understanding of large-scale movements and potential areas of aggregation will help inform control strategies and risk assessment if grass carp spread to other parts of Lake Erie and other Great Lakes. Twenty-three grass carp captured in Lake Erie’s WB were implanted with acoustic transmitters and released. Movements were monitored with acoustic receivers deployed throughout Lake Erie and elsewhere in the Great Lakes. Grass carp dispersed up to 236 km, with approximately 25% of fish dispersing greater than 100 km from their release location. Mean daily movements ranged from <0.01 to 2.49 km/day, with the highest daily averages occurring in the spring and summer. The Sandusky, Detroit, and Maumee Rivers, and Plum Creek were the most heavily used WB tributaries. Seventeen percent of grass carp moved into Lake Erie’s central or eastern basins, although all fish eventually returned to the WB. One fish emigrated from Lake Erie through the Huron-Erie Corridor and into Lake Huron. Based on our results, past assessments may have underestimated the potential for grass carp to spread in the Great Lakes. We recommend focusing grass carp control efforts on Sandusky River and Plum Creek given their high use by tagged fish, and secondarily on Maumee and Detroit Rivers.

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