Paired throat and cloacal swabs, along with feather samples, from nesting Double-crested Cormorants (Phalacrocorax auritus) at two sites in Illinois, USA, were tested for presence of invasive bigheaded carp (Hypophthalmichthys spp.) DNA. We also used DNA from the feather calamus to determine cormorant sex. Throat and cloacal swabs from cormorants at both locations tested positive for DNA from silver carp (H. molitrix), but none tested positive for bighead carp (H. nobilis). Hypophthalmichthys DNA was not detected on feathers. There were no significant differences among positive Hypophthalmichthys DNA detection frequencies between cormorant sexes. To our knowledge, this is the first demonstration of silver carp as part of the Double-crested Cormorant diet in North America. Hypophthalmichthys are major invasive species of concern in this region, the detection of water-borne environmental DNA of Hypophthalmichthys is an important monitoring tool, and the potential movement of DNA via piscivorous birds may have significant implications for interpreting environmental DNA monitoring data.
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Vol. 40 • No. 1