Hybridization As A Facilitating Factor in the Biological Invasion of Asian Carps

There is ample evidence that hybridization increases invasiveness in many plant species and some animal species. Two sympatric Asian carps, bighead carp and silver carp, have been observed rampantly hybridizing in the Missouri River basin. Both species exhibit rapid growth, high fecundity, young age at maturity, and multiple spawns per season, which are characteristics strongly conducive for selection and adaptation, allowing for the maintenance of a strong invasion presence in the Missouri River basin.

Goals

Project goals are to 1) determine the number of distinct Asian carp populations in the Missouri River basin, 2) describe differences in individual growth rates and morphology among the populations, as well as quantify the extent of hybridization of each population, and 3) use ecological models to pinpoint which native fishes in the Missouri River basin are the most susceptible to this invasion by Asian carps.

Current Status

Thus far, we have determined that hybridization rates between bighead carp and silver carp are similar in environments within native (12% in China) and non-native (13% in USA) ranges, which is counter to our a priori expectations that hybridization rates would be substantial greater in novel environments of the non-native range. We continue to foster collaborations with Duane Chapman (U.S. Geological Survey), Jim Lamer (Western Illinois University), Wyatt Doyle (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service), and Dr. Xiaolin Liao (Institute of Hydroecology, Wuhan Branch of the Chinese Academy of Sciences) to expand field collections. We are working with multiple federal and state agencies to contribute scientific information for the development of the Asian Carp Strategic Conservation Framework for the Mississippi River Basin.

Invasive hybrid carp collected at the Kibbe Life Science Station in Warsaw, Illinois. Photo: Sarah Gaughan
Invasive hybrid carp collected at the Kibbe Life Science Station in Warsaw, Illinois. Photo: Sarah Gaughan
Genotyping Asian carp at Shanghai Ocean University in Shanghai, China. Photo: Sarah Gaughan
Genotyping Asian carp at Shanghai Ocean University in Shanghai, China. Photo: Sarah Gaughan
Principal Investigator(s)
-Kevin L. Pope, NE CFWRU
-Guoqing, LU, University of Nebraska at Omaha
Graduate Student(s)
-Sarah Gaughan, Ph.D.
Project Duration
June 2016-present
Funding
-National Science Foundation EAPSI program
Project Location
Nebraska, Illinois, and China