Mechanism of northern pike invasion in the Columbia River Basin

Kellie J. Carim, Lisa A. Eby, Loren M. Miller, Holly McLellan, Virgil Dupuis, Michael K. Schwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The spread of aquatic invasive species typically occurs through a combination of natural and human mediated dispersal. For many aquatic invasive species, natural dispersal is limited to aquatic corridors connecting habitat. In contrast, human transport may facilitate more distant dispersal and transport among disconnected waterbodies. Genetic information can serve as a powerful tool to track invasion histories and identify both the sources and mechanisms of invasive species dispersal. We used genetic information to understand invasion history and dynamics of expanding northern pike invasion in the Columbia River basin. Results indicate that the initial introduction of northern pike into the Pend Oreille River (in eastern Washington State) resulted from human transport of fish, not dispersal from established populations upstream. Subsequent reproduction and natural dispersal from the Pend Oreille River resulted in downstream expansion of northern pike into Lake Roosevelt, a reservoir within the mainstem Columbia River. These results highlight the need for a holistic approach to suppression of invasive species. Immediate efforts must address the biological mechanisms of natural dispersal. Sustained suppression and eradication must take a broad approach that includes coordination between management agencies, as well as policy and public outreach aimed at prevention of repeated human transport events. The genetic database created from this study has already been used to eliminate potential source populations for new northern pike invasions in Washington State outside the Columbia River basin. This highlights the utility of genetic monitoring for both immediate and long-term applications to managing aquatic species invasions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)168-190
Number of pages23
JournalManagement of Biological Invasions
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2022


  • Esox lucius
  • Genetic assignment
  • Human transport
  • Isolation by distance


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