Numerous studies throughout North America allege deleterious associations among invasive Asian Carp and native fishes; however, no empirical evidence on a system-wide scale exists. We used Mississippi River Basin fish community data collected by the Long Term Resource Monitoring program and the Missouri Department of Conservation to evaluate possible interaction between Asian Carp and native fishes. Results from two decades of long-term monitoring throughout much of the Mississippi River suggest that Silver Carp relative abundance has increased while relative abundance (Bigmouth Buffalo [F 3, 8240 = 6.44, P<0.01] and Gizzard Shad [F 3, 8240 = 31.04, P<0.01]) and condition (Bigmouth Buffalo [slope = -0.11; t = -1.71; P = 0.1014] and Gizzard Shad [slope = -0.39; t = -3.02; P = 0.0073]) of native planktivores have declined. Floodplain lake qualitative evaluations yielded similar results; floodplain lake fish communities were likely altered (i.e., reductions in native species) by Silver Carp. Furthermore, laboratory experiments corroborated field evidence; Silver Carp negatively influence native planktivores through competition for prey (all comparisons, P > 0.05). To this end, this study provides evidence that Silver Carp are likely adversely influencing native fishes; however, mere presence of Silver Carp in the system does not induce deleterious effects on native fishes. To the best of our knowledge, this evaluation is the first to describe the effects of Asian Carp throughout the Mississippi River Basin and could be used to reduce the effects of Asian Carp on native biota through an integrated pest management program as suggested by congressional policy. Despite the simplicity of the data analyzed and approach used, this study provides a framework for beginning to identify the interactions of invasive fish pests on native fishes (i.e., necessary first step of integrated pest management). However, knowledge gaps remain. We suggest future efforts should conduct more in depth analyses (i.e., multivariate statistical approaches) that investigate the influence on all native species.

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© 2017 The authors. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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