Author ORCID Identifier

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Jeff S Wesner, Hugh B Britten


Invasive species, climate change, human impacts on the landscape, flooding, and drought are all dynamic factors that greatly impact the Missouri River and its tributaries in eastern South Dakota. Invasive Carp, and more specifically, Bighead (Hypophthalmichthys nobilis) and Silver Carp (H. molitrix), first invaded the Missouri River watershed in eastern South Dakota in the late 1990s and have since spread throughout the basin downstream of Gavin’s Point Dam. The first chapter of this study uses environmental DNA (eDNA) in the context of two major barriers to fish movement in the Vermillion and Big Sioux Rivers to determine potential presence and range expansion of both species in both rivers. We did not detect any Invasive Carp eDNA above either barrier in 2021 but detected eDNA above the barrier in the Vermillion River in 2022. It is possible that both species have either moved or been transported above the barrier in the Vermillion River, but more research is needed to determine their presence with more certainty. The second chapter uses passive acoustic telemetry techniques to record Silver Carp movement patterns in the James River and to determine whether the tagged Silver Carp were residents or transients to the James River. Movement patterns of Silver Carp within the James River varied greatly by year and water conditions. We developed a model to predict the effects of discharge, a change in discharge over 24 or 48 hours, mean weekly temperature, and mean weekly dissolved oxygen on Silver Carp movement. We determined that mean daily discharge was the most important factor in predicting large-scale Silver Carp movements. We also determined that the tagged Silver Carp displayed site fidelity and appeared to be residents within the James River. Both the eDNA and telemetry aspects of this study were the first of their kind in these three Missouri River tributaries in eastern South Dakota, and results from both studies will aid in future management of these invasive species.

Subject Categories

Biology | Ecology and Evolutionary Biology


bighead carp, environmental DNA, invasive species, missouri river, silver carp, telemetry

Number of Pages



University of South Dakota



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