Natural Resources, School of


First Advisor

Kevin L. Pope

Date of this Version



A thesis presented to the faculty of the Graduate College at the University of Nebraska in partial fulfillment of requirements for the degree of Master of Science

Major: Natural Resource Sciences

Under the supervision of Professor Kevin L. Pope

Lincoln, Nebraska, December 2023


Copyright 2023, Caroline M. LaPlante


Invasives species are prevalent and widespread in North America. Outdoor recreational activities, such as fishing, introduce a point in which humans may interact with invasive species and have to adapt their own behaviors. Bigheaded carp in the Missouri River below Gavin’s Point Dam are a group of invasive fish species that were thought to be negatively relating to recreational fishers’ satisfactions. Using a content analysis and an importance-grid, we conclude that invasive species do not strongly relate to recreational paddlefish fishers’ satisfactions. Paddlefish fishers represent a small sub-set of recreational fishers in Nebraska and South Dakota. The content analysis revealed that only a very small subset of fishers’ are reporting concerns related to bighead carp and an even smaller subset relate to negative sentiments about bigheaded carp. The importance-grid analysis revealed that at both the day-level and the season-level, paddlefish fishers satisfactions are strongly related to harvest of a paddlefish and that factors relating to bigheaded carp and other invasive species is unimportant rather than detrimental. There is no difference in how bigheaded carp factors are classified on the importance grid between method of take, with is contrary to the hypothesis that archery fishers may have stronger positive influence of bigheaded carp towards fishing satisfactions given the additional targets they create. It is likely that bigheaded carp are becoming normalized to the point of leniency in fishers and thus they are not identifying them categorically as invasive species and are shifting their expectations in regard to dealing with their presence. Future studies related to the influence of invasive species on fishers’ satisfactions could consider a non-limited recreational fishery and could focus more on the archery method of take, which has anecdotally been more keen to target species like bigheaded carp.

Advisor: Kevin L. Pope