Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Mississippi
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Miranda, L.E., J. Tompkins, C.G. Dunn, J. Morris, and M.C. Combs. 2023. Patterns of zero and nonzero counts indicate spatiotemporal distributions, aggregation, and dispersion of invasive carp. Management of Biological Invasions 14(2): 363-377.


Bigheaded carp Hypophthalmichthys spp. are invasive species native to Asia expanding in the Mississippi River Basin in North America. An understanding of spatiotemporal distribution and aggregation of invasive carp is key to establishing when and where to focus surveillance designed to monitor expansion, and to managing harvest programs designed to curb population densities. We applied a two-stage hurdle model to assess three aspects of bigheaded carp ecology: distribution, relative abundance, and aggregation. Stage 1 was a binary 0/1 model that represented fish presence (p), and stage 2 was a truncated count distribution that had no zeros and included counts ≥ 1 only (C). Estimates of p and C varied temporally and spatially, but not in harmony and sometimes in opposing directions, indicating temporal and spatial swings in fish distributions and aggregations. Intense fish aggregations in channels in spring shown by low p’s and high C’s, eventually scattered by summer and fall as shown by high p’s and low C’s. An alternative but complementary interpretation of our observations is that p indexes incidence of aggregations and C indexes size of aggregations. Partitioning catch into its zero and nonzero components provided insight into population ecology that can inform development of monitoring and management of harvesting programs targeted at lessening potential effects of the invasion.