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Document Type

Dissertation - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Natural Resource Management

First Advisor

Brian D.S. Graeb

Second Advisor

Katie N. Bertland


South Dakota, Vermillion river, Big Sioux river, James river, North Dakota, fishes, stream ecology, carp


Invasive species are spreading in aquatic systems at an unprecedented rate and have the potential to disrupt the structure and function of these systems. Two invasive species, Bighead Carp and Silver Carp (Asian carps), are spreading in the Mississippi River Basin and more recently into the Missouri River basin and tributaries. Asian carps exhibit fast population growth, are highly fecund, are plankton consumers and are known to cause negative impacts (e.g., decreased condition, decreased growth, altered composition) on native planktivores and plankton. Knowledge of Asian carp population structure and trophodynamics in newly invaded populations is necessary to understand invasion dynamics in general and to predict the impacts Asian carps may be having on the newly invaded community. We found that historically, assemblage structure of eastern South Dakota tributaries to the Missouri River (i.e., James, Vermillion, Big Sioux rivers) was persistent and displayed signs of biotic resistance. Silver carp population abundance increased each year of sampling (e.g., 2009-2012) comprising 45% of catches in 2012; however Bighead Carp did not follow this same pattern as catches remained minimal during this period. Additionally, the population of Silver Carp displayed erratic recruitment in that 91 % of catches were dominated by the 2010 year class. Distribution into eastern South Dakota tributaries was stopped by three substantial dams preventing further natural spread. Isotope analysis and diet analysis revealed that Silver Carp and Gizzard Shad overlapped trophically and the isotopic trophic niche of Emerald Shiner, which is usually pelagic, potentially moved to more benthic habitats and food sources as a result of Silver Carp presence. There were no perceived effects of Silver Carp on Bigmouth Buffalo however. With continued population increases of Silver Carp, the potential for competition for plankton resources becomes greater and trophic impacts may become more pronounced, especially for gizzard shad and emerald shiner. Invasive species are usually studied well after an introduction and colonization, unlike this study which began on the cusp of the northwestern United States invasion. This research and continued monitoring of this invasion can help to provide insights into invasion ecology (e.g., competition, phonotypic plasticity, biotic resistance), complex invasive species (e.g., opportunistic and adaptable), and potential impacts (e.g., nutrient cycling, trophic cascades) on the native community and ecosystem.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Carp -- South Dakota
Introduced fishes -- South Dakota
Food chains (Ecology)
Stream ecology -- James River (N.D. and S.D.)
Stream ecology -- South Dakota -- Vermillion River
Stream ecology -- Big Sioux River (S.D. and Iowa)
Aquatic ecology



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


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