Biological Invasions

, Volume 19, Issue 6, pp 1905–1916 | Cite as

Widespread and enduring demographic collapse of invasive common carp (Cyprinus carpio) in the Upper Mississippi River System

  • Daniel K. Gibson-Reinemer
  • John. H. Chick
  • T. D. VanMiddlesworth
  • Madeleine VanMiddlesworth
  • Andrew F. Casper
Original Paper


Populations of invasive species that undergo rapid expansions after establishment in a new system can also be subject to collapse. Although the dynamics of the establishment and expansion phases and their ecological effects are well documented, substantially fewer studies document collapses despite their importance for understanding invasion dynamics. Two long-term fish monitoring programs sample the fish assemblage of the Upper Mississippi River System. These data provide an opportunity to document the collapse of common carp (Cyprinus carpio), a globally invasive freshwater fish species. Here we describe their population trajectory over several decades and examine several hypotheses to explain the decline, including: boom-bust population dynamics; suppression by native predators; resource exhaustion; improvements in environmental conditions; and disease. The observed trends appear to be most consistent with the hypothesis that disease was the most important factor contributing to the collapse. In particular, cyprinid herpesviruses have been shown to affect common carp in a manner consistent with the observed decreases in catch rates and increases in size distributions. The apparent role of a viral agent in causing the decline of common carp across one of the largest river basins in North America suggests similar collapses may occur elsewhere.


Common carp Cyprinus carpio Cyprinid herpesvirus Invasive species Collapse Mississippi River 



We are grateful for the support from the Sportfish Restoration Fund through the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Fisheries Division (Grant No. F-101-R) and the Long-Term Resource Monitoring Component of the US Army Corps of Engineers' Upper Mississippi River Restoration Program. We are grateful to the many field stations and state biologists from Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Minnesota, and Wisconsin who collected the data for these projects over the past several decades.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Illinois Natural History Survey, Illinois River Biological StationHavanaUSA
  2. 2.Illinois Natural History Survey, Great Rivers Field StationAltonUSA
  3. 3.Division of Marine FisheriesNorth Carolina Department of Environmental QualityManteoUSA
  4. 4.Department of Natural Resources and Environmental ScienceUniversity of Illinois Urbana-ChampaignUrbanaUSA

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