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Silver carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix), an invasive planktivorous fish species in North America, pose a threat to aquatic ecosystems throughout the Mississippi River Drainage. These fish are well known for their airborne leaps in response to passing watercraft, but the trigger for, and functional significance of jumping remains unknown. The behavior of wild silver carp responding to moving (16, 24, 32, and 40 km/hr) 6 m aluminum boats equipped with 4-stroke outboard motors (100 or 150 hp) was quantified. Experiments were conducted at three sites on the Illinois River near Havana, IL and most boat transits (57.9%) stimulated five or more fish to jump. The frequency of jumping (fish/min) was independent of speed and motor type and the vast majority of fish (> 90.0%) jumped after the boat had passed their position but avoided the area directly astern (< 4.0 m). Furthermore, 79.8% of fish vectored away from the moving watercraft. The results suggest that jumping direction is not random and fish can localize the stimulus source. The “delayed” jumping until after the boat had transited the area indicates that the trigger may be turbulence and/or higher sound pressure levels. This is the first study to model silver carp jumping in response to motorized watercraft and can aid fisheries managers in predicting the direction and location of airborne fish to develop effective herding and capture methods.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We would like to thank the staff and interns at the Illinois River Biological Station (IRBS) in Havana, IL and their sponsors, Sportfish Restoration Fund project F-101-R, Illinois DNR Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Asian Carp Removal Program, and Upper Mississippi River Restoration Long-term Resource Monitoring Element, for providing resources (including boat time and buoys) and input on the experimental design. We would also like to thank Graham Hanson for assisting with fieldwork. Funding was provided by University of Minnesota Duluth, the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund, and the Illinois Natural History Survey. Finally, the authors wish to thank the reviewers for the time and effort put in to providing feedback on this manuscript.
- Invasive species