WVU researchers explore ways to control invasive carp


Abigail Clasgens, a wildlife and fisheries resources major, holds an invasive carp caught during field work with Kentucky Division of Natural Resources. (Photo from WVUToday)

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Researchers at West Virginia University have been given funds to research and minimize the ongoing invasion of ecologically and economically destructive carp in the Upper Mississippi River Basin.

Brent Murry and Caroline Arantes are researchers from the Davis College of Agriculture Natural Resources and Design who have been assigned to gather data and study pre-existing data in the, currently uninhabited by invasive carp, Ohio and Tennessee-Cumberland River basins.

“When carp first invaded, they quickly moved their way up and down the Mississippi and many of its tributaries,” Murry said. “At the same time, they moved into the lower Ohio and stalled. They really haven’t made it past Cincinnati and the Markland Dam in any real, significant numbers.”

The two researchers are interested in what factors make the Ohio and Tennessee-Cumberland basins more resistant to the carp than the Upper Mississippi.

“The invasive species cause environmental, ecological and economic damage; they can even cause physical harm to people,” Murry said.

Due to rapid reproduction and their ability to out-compete native species, the carp impact commercial fisheries by taking over areas once dominated by native species.

The team has been given a three-year, $151,394 grant from the United States Geological Survey’s (USGS) 104g program to explore factors that may be related to an ecosystems ability to resist invasion.

“We are excited that we have strong, young researchers at WVU who can successfully compete against top universities in the Mississippi and Ohio River Basins,” said Paul Ziemkiewicz, director of the West Virginia Water Research Institute. “Their work will support the efforts of federal and state fisheries managers in controlling invasive carp while training students in this important field.”

The USGS 104g program focuses on multi-state water problems. This year’s objective involves aquatic invasive species research in the Upper Mississippi River Basin.

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