Since their introduction in the 1970s, Silver Carp Hypophthalmichthys molitrix have spread throughout the Mississippi River basin. Management of any species relies on an accurate understanding of population characteristics and dynamics. However, Silver Carp seasonal sampling variation is unknown. Sampling during periods of peak catch rates would facilitate Silver Carp assessment and management, improving monitoring and removal techniques. The objective of this study was to evaluate adult Silver Carp seasonal sampling variation with boat electroshocking and trammel nets. Silver Carp were collected monthly (April–October) during 2014 and 2015 from four locations in the Des Moines River, Iowa. Trammel nets rarely captured Silver Carp (mean ± SE = 4.9 ± 1.6 fish/net; 60% of fish were captured in 6.3% of net sets) and therefore were not included in analyses. Electroshocking catch rates (CPUEs) exhibited a bimodal distribution, with peak CPUEs generally occurring in May, June, and September and lower catch rates observed during July and August. Catch rates were positively related to river discharge at upstream sites but not at downstream sites. Silver Carp size structure was similar among months and sites except at Cliffland, where fish were smaller during August and October compared to earlier in the year. Finally, Silver Carp condition peaked during April and May and decreased throughout the year except at Keokuk, where peaks were observed during both May and August. Although spatiotemporal variability was substantial, these results suggest that sampling of Silver Carp via electroshocking in May–June and September–October generally produces higher catch rates compared to July–August sampling and generates a more representative size structure. Using site-specific knowledge, monitoring and surveillance programs could more effectively sample during these periods of high vulnerability and densities in order to manage the spread and impacts of Silver Carp at statewide and regionwide scales.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/michael_weber/23/