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Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Wildlife and Fisheries Science

First Advisor

Michael L. Brown


south dakota, carp, spatial distributions, glacial alkes, geographical dsitribution


The common carp Cyprinus carpio is a ubiquitous invasive species naturalized to aquatic systems throughout North America. Following their intentional introduction in the United States in the late 1800’s, the common carp’s commercial and recreational value declined during the 20th century. They are generally considered a nuisance species to aquatic resource managers because they impose significant biotic perturbations and disrupt ecological functions of shallow lake ecosystems. Despite the high densities often observed in eastern South Dakota glacial lakes, biological information and a strategic plan for their management are relatively nonexistent. Understanding common carp movement patterns is required for developing management strategies, selecting appropriate control techniques, and assessing ecological impacts. In general, management strategies for overabundant common carp populations are typically aimed at population reduction with the goal of improving water quality and habitat to enhance native fish communities. In order to choose efficient and cost effective control techniques, an understanding of common carp seasonal movement patterns and spatial distributions is essential. Therefore, the objectives of my research were to: 1) evaluate seasonal and diel movement patterns of common carp in a shallow (<5 m), interconnected glacial lake system in eastern South Dakota, and 2) examine seasonal spatial distributions. To address the objectives, both manual and fixed-position ultrasonic telemetry were used year-round on Brant and Round lakes, a 500-ha interconnected glacial lake system in eastern South Dakota. Twenty adult common carp (586 to 807 mm TL; large size class) were implanted with large ultrasonic transmitters (CHP-87-L, 18 months, Sonotronics, Inc) and five smaller carp (357 to 410 mm TL; small size class) of unknown sex were implanted with small transmitters (IBT-96-9-I, 9 months, Sonotronics, Inc) during the fall of 2007 and 2008, respectively. Manual telemetry was performed during three independent 5-h tracking periods (morning, mid-day, evening) from May to November in 2008 and from April to August in 2009 to assess seasonal movement patterns and spatial distributions. In addition, 24-h tracking bouts were conducted in June, July, August, and October of 2008 to investigate seasonal and diel hourly movement rates of adult common carp. Fixed location telemetry using 10 submersible ultrasonic receivers (SUR-1, Sonotronics, Inc) placed throughout the deepest basin of Brant Lake occurred during periods of ice cover from December to March of both years and was used to assess activity patterns and spatial distribution of common carp. A total of 572 locations were determined during the open water periods and 23,986 and 57,489 detections were logged on the 10 submersible receivers during the winters from 2007 to 2009. A total of 380 locations (234 female, 146 male) from 19 acoustically tagged adult common carp were obtained from May 14 to November 4, 2008 and 192 locations were obtained from large and small size class carp from April 22 to August 18, 2009. Eighteen of 20 adult carp were detected during the winters of 2007 and 2008 and 18 (13 large and 5 small) carp were detected during the winters of 2008 and 2009. The large and small carp accounted for 35,052 and 22,437 detections, respectively, during the second winter. During the study, 7 of 24 (29%) located carp, including 1 of 5 (20%) small fish and 6 of 19 (32%) large fish, either died or expelled their transmitter. Adult common carp mean hourly movement rates per 24-h tracking session ranged from 100.3 m/h (SE=25.1) in August to 165.9 m/h (SE=28.1) in October, but movement rates did not differ (P>0.05) in June, July, August, and October indicating that fish moved consistently at the same rate during this period. Movement rates did not differ among diel periods across months or diel periods within months. Activity under the ice was highest in March of both winters compared to previous months and no difference was detected between large and small fish activity. Spatial segregation between large adult common carp and small carp occurred in June 2009 during spawning when adults were located closer to shore in shallower depths. In addition, spatial segregation was detected during winter months as small fish were detected in the eastern part of Brant Lake earlier and for a prolonged period of time, as compared to large fish. Mean monthly depth at location and distance to shore for adult common carp followed similar yearly trends. Adult common carp were found at shallow depths (<1.8 m) and close to shore (<100 m) in May and June of both years during peak spawning activity. Following spawning, a similar pattern was observed both years where common carp moved offshore (>130 m) to deeper water in July (>2.2 m) and then back inshore (<110 m) to shallower depths in August (<1.9 m). Common carp were found offshore (>170 m) in deeper water (>2.4 m) September through November in 2008. Male and female common carp were located at similar depths and distances from shore in all months except June 2008 when female carp were found at significantly shallower depths and closer to shore. The distribution of adult common carp locations during open water periods was non-random over the two-year study period, based on a randomization analysis. Monthly distributions of adult common carp locations were non-random in May, June, August, and October of 2008 and June of 2009. Random distributions occurred in July, September, November of 2008 and April, May, July, and August of 2009. An assessment of the amount of clustering of fish locations using a nearest neighbor index (NNI) and Ripley’s K-function analysis were performed to detect aggregations. The NNI analysis indicated that the locations of carp in May, June, July, and August of 2008 and June of 2009 were more clustered than a random distribution and the lowest amount of clustering occurred in July of 2008. In contrast, common carp were more randomly distributed throughout the basin during July of 2009. The Ripley’s K-function analysis indicated common carp locations in May, June, and August of 2008 were more clustered at all distances then carp locations in July of 2008. Carp were the most clustered at a distance of 150 m in June and most dispersed at a distance of 600 m in July. Distinct under-ice distribution and activity patterns of adult carp were detected in Brant Lake over the two year study period and carp displayed a clear tendency to aggregate and restrict activity within the western portion of the lake. Adult common carp displayed predictable annual movement patterns and spatial distributions creating the potential for large-scale removals aimed at reducing abundance in this system. The use of relatively few carp (<10) bearing acoustic or radio transmitters to guide managers and commercial fishermen to aggregations may be an effective strategy for targeting removals on shallow lakes. A reduction in common carp abundance has the potential to improve water quality and habitat to enhance native sportfish communities.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Carp -- Seasonal distribution -- South Dakota
Carp -- South Dakota -- Geographical distribution
Glacial lakes -- South Dakota



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


Copyright © Matthew J. Hennon. All rights reserved.