Close-up carp held by researcher.

MN Impact: Protecting Minnesota’s Freshwater Ecosystems by Removing Invasive Species

November 1, 2014

The Issue

Shallow freshwater ecosystems across the country have become seriously degraded by the common carp, an invasive species of fish introduced from Europe in the late 1800s. The only means formerly available to control the common carp was to poison or drain entire ecosystems, an expensive and unsustainable practice. What is needed is a sustainable integrated pest management scheme for the control of carp.

What Has Been Done?

As a result of the previous, successful work of U of M researchers on invasive species, the Minnesota Legislature funded the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center at the U of M. The center is creating a sustained, scientifically coordinated response not only to bigheaded carp, but also to zebra mussels, invasive water weeds, and other organisms threatening Minnesota’s lakes and rivers.

Specific research to eliminate carp from Minnesota lakes has taken a multi-strategy approach, including the use of acoustic barriers and food attractions. Carp have sensitive hearing and can be repelled by sound. Some types of plankton or blue-green algae may help lure carp into traps.   

In addition, researchers are investigating the release of sterile bigheaded carp, equipped with radio tracking tags and pheromone implants to attract other carp so a whole group can be harvested.

Impact/Results

Researchers have already had great success in controlling the carp in identified lakes. For example, they shut down the breeding and removed 75 percent if the carp in selected lakes in the Twin Cities area.

Peter Sorensen harvesting carp.

Peter Sorensen harvesting and gathering data on carp in Keller Lake, Maplewood, MN.