Detecting the movement and spawning activity of bigheaded carps with environmental DNA

Mol Ecol Resour. 2016 Jul;16(4):957-65. doi: 10.1111/1755-0998.12533. Epub 2016 May 9.


Bigheaded carps are invasive fishes threatening to invade the Great Lakes basin and establish spawning populations, and have been monitored using environmental DNA (eDNA). Not only does eDNA hold potential for detecting the presence of species, but may also allow for quantitative comparisons like relative abundance of species across time or space. We examined the relationships among bigheaded carp movement, hydrography, spawning and eDNA on the Wabash River, IN, USA. We found positive relationships between eDNA and movement and eDNA and hydrography. We did not find a relationship between eDNA and spawning activity in the form of drifting eggs. Our first finding demonstrates how eDNA may be used to monitor species abundance, whereas our second finding illustrates the need for additional research into eDNA methodologies. Current applications of eDNA are widespread, but the relatively new technology requires further refinement.

Keywords: Asian carp; bigheaded carp; environmental monitoring; fisheries management; invasive species detection.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carps / classification
  • Carps / genetics*
  • Carps / physiology
  • DNA / genetics
  • DNA / isolation & purification*
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods*
  • Indiana
  • Locomotion*
  • Metagenomics / methods*
  • Reproduction*
  • Rivers
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Water / chemistry*


  • Water
  • DNA

Associated data

  • GENBANK/AB595924.1