The Whitney Genetics Laboratory uses environmental DNA (eDNA) testing for early detection of invasive carp in the Chicago Area Waterway System, the Illinois, Upper Mississippi and Ohio Rivers as well as tributaries of all five Great Lakes. The lab also provides species identification via genetic sequencing for wild caught fish eggs and larvae. Lab staff participate in development of new scientific methods to help meet the management goals of the Service and its partners. These methods are shared with other professionals through publications, presentations, and teaching.

About Us

The Whitney Genetics Laboratory:

  •  Supports control and management of invasive carp species by providing monitoring data
  • Uses environmental DNA techniques to help prevent invasive carp from establishing sustainable populations in the Great Lakes
  • Develops eDNA and next-generation sequencing tools to detect and monitor aquatic invasive species invasive species
    An invasive species is any plant or animal that has spread or been introduced into a new area where they are, or could, cause harm to the environment, economy, or human, animal, or plant health. Their unwelcome presence can destroy ecosystems and cost millions of dollars.

    Learn more about invasive species
    and threatened and endangered species
  • Works with numerous partners to complete the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service mission

What We Do

At the Whitney Genetics Lab, we protect our aquatic habitats by playing an important part in early detection of invasive carp. Staff at the Midwest Fisheries Center and our partners collect and send thousands of eDNA samples to the Whitney Genetics Lab a year to be processed. eDNA is a useful tool used by managers to determine if more management action is needed to control invasive carp populations. We are expanding the use of eDNA to detect certain endangered species, and other invasive species invasive species
An invasive species is any plant or animal that has spread or been introduced into a new area where they are, or could, cause harm to the environment, economy, or human, animal, or plant health. Their unwelcome presence can destroy ecosystems and cost millions of dollars.

Learn more about invasive species
in the region.

Our Organization

The Whitney Genetics Laboratory is housed within the Midwest Fisheries Center, which also includes the La Crosse Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office, La Crosse Fish Health Center, and administrative, GIS and outreach staff, as well as the Regional Watercraft Safety Coordinator.

The Midwest Fisheries Center is the region’s Fish Technology Center for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Fish Technology Centers provide leadership in science-based management of trust aquatic resources through applied research and the development of new concepts, strategies and techniques to solve problems in aquatic resource conservation. Established in 2015, the Midwest Fisheries Center’s mission is: “Working in partnership, we provide leadership in science, technology and education for conservation of aquatic ecosystems emphasizing fisheries, aquatic invasive species invasive species
An invasive species is any plant or animal that has spread or been introduced into a new area where they are, or could, cause harm to the environment, economy, or human, animal, or plant health. Their unwelcome presence can destroy ecosystems and cost millions of dollars.

Learn more about invasive species
, genetics and aquatic animal health for the benefit of the public”.

The Fish and Aquatic Conservation program leads aquatic conservation efforts for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. We are committed to tackling the nation’s highest priority aquatic conservation and recreational challenges to conserve, restore, and enhance fisheries for future generations.
Aquatic invasive species cause tremendous harm to our environment, our economy, and our health. They can drive out and eat native plants and wildlife, spread diseases, and damage infrastructure. We work to protect our waterways and the communities that depend on them from the threat of invasive...

Our Species

The Whitney Genetics Lab works on detection of invasive species invasive species
An invasive species is any plant or animal that has spread or been introduced into a new area where they are, or could, cause harm to the environment, economy, or human, animal, or plant health. Their unwelcome presence can destroy ecosystems and cost millions of dollars.

Learn more about invasive species
including the highly invasive bighead and silver carp, and the potentially damaging black and grass carp. In addition, the lab works on sensitive species, including the eastern hellbender ,Ozark cavefish, and Wood turtle.

Bighead carp (Hypophthalmichthys nobilis) are native to eastern Asia and are one of four nonnative fish referred to as “invasive carp”. These fish are large, deep bodied fish that have a large head and a large toothless mouth with a protruding lower jaw. The bighead carp eyes are far...

FWS Focus

Silver carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix) are one of four nonnative fish species belonging to a group commonly referred to as “invasive carp”. Native to eastern Asia, silver carp were introduced to the United States during the 1970’s and 1980’s to private fish farms and wastewater...

FWS Focus

The Ozark Cavefish is a small 2-1/4 inch long, blind, pinkish-white fish. Due to the dark environments in which it resides, sight is unnecessary and the cavefish has no eyes.

FWS Focus

Projects and Research

The Whitney Genetics Laboratory processes environmental DNA (eDNA) testing for early detection of invasive carp in multiple watersheds. Click here to find eDNA sample results.

Visit Us

Our lobby features informational displays describing local aquatic wildlife and our scientific research and conservation efforts, a Mississippi River mural and an aquarium of local native fish. The lobby is open to the public. Our laboratories and other work areas are not generally open for tours so we encourage visitors to email or call to pre-arrange a tour. 

Get Involved

The Midwest Fisheries Center offers environmental education activities for community groups and schools. In addition, the center can lend fishing poles to local community groups. Each year, the center co-sponsors several events in the community. There are a variety of volunteer opportunities available in several different areas.

Location and Contact Information