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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1905-1916
Number of pages12
JournalBiological Invasions
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2017


  • Collapse
  • Common carp
  • Cyprinid herpesvirus
  • Cyprinus carpio
  • Invasive species
  • Mississippi River

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology


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