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Monday, January 25 • 3:40pm - 4:00pm
Morphology of Native Cyprinid Embryos Overlaps That of Asian Carp

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AUTHORS: James H. Larson, U.S. Geological Survey; S. Grace McCalla, U.S. Geological Survey; Amy E. George, U.S. Geological Survey; Duane C. Chapman, U.S. Geological Survey; Christopher Rees, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Brent C. Knights, U.S. Geological Survey; Jon M. Vallazza, U.S. Geological Survey; Jon Amberg, U.S. Geological Survey; Maren Tuttle-Lau, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Emy Monroe, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

ABSTRACT: Asian carp of the genera Hypophthalmichthys, Ctenopharyngodon, and Mylopharyngodon are invading the Upper Mississippi River and represent high risk to normal functioning of invaded ecosystems. Determining reproductive status and requirements of Asian carp populations at invasion fronts is necessary to inform integrated pest management. To address this need in the Upper Mississippi River, we used ichthyoplankton nets to sample fish embryos from main channel sites at and above what was presumed the reproductive front. Embryos were preserved in formalin to conserve morphological characteristics used to identify Asian carp. Surprisingly, embryos collected >300 km upstream of previous reports of reproduction were positively identified as Asian carp. The unexpected results prompted a posteriori attempts to verify the identity of 41 of these embryos using non-standard genetic methods (including “minibarcode” primers) on the cytochrome c oxidase 1 (COI) gene. These non-standard methods were necessary to compensate for extended formalin preservation that is known to degrade DNA. Likely due to formalin preservation, sequences were adequately recovered from only 17 of these embryos. For all 17 embryos, identity based on genetics contradicted those based on morphometrics and suggested that these embryos were non-carp cyprinids generally of the genus Notropis. In previously published reports, the primary morphological characteristic that distinguishes Asian carp embryos from non-carp cyprinids is diameter of the water-hardened egg. The size of the eggs genetically identified as non-carp cyprinids overlapped with the reported size range of Asian carp eggs. These findings suggest that managers and researchers sampling Asian carp eggs might need to preserve samples, with appropriate methods, for genetic confirmation of species identification.

Monday January 25, 2016 3:40pm - 4:00pm EST