Original paper

Impact of common carp Cyprinus carpio on aquatic communities: direct trophic effects versus habitat deterioration

Kloskowski, Janusz

Abstract

The common carp Cyprinus carpio, a worldwide introduced benthivorous fish, has been implicated in the degradation of native environments through initiation of a shift to a phytoplankton-dominated turbid state, which is associated with dramatic biodiversity loss. This study combined surveys of ponds containing either low total biomass of small-sized carp or high densities of large-sized carp with an enclosure/exclosure experiment, in order to quantify the direct (trophic) and indirect (via habitat deterioration) impacts of carp on pond communities. High-density ponds supported substantially lower biodiversity and were more turbid than low-density ponds. The subsequent field experiment examined the effects of carp presence/absence and of clear-water versus moderately turbid conditions mediated by carp on the survival to metamorphosis of larval anurans Pelobates fuscus and Hyla arborea, on Zygoptera and Anisoptera densities, and on the biomass of submerged macrophytes. The presence of enclosed one-year old carp resulted in the complete elimination of larval anurans and the absence of Odonata. The effects of the habitat conditions were not significant, apart from better survival of P. fuscus in the moderately turbid carp exclosures than in clear water. Submerged plants were more abundant in clear-water than in turbid treatments, with a negligible effect of enclosures/exclosures. These results suggest that carp predation and related effects may be primarily responsible for animal diversity loss in invaded communities, as they may act prior to, or independent of, the ecosystem switch to a turbid phase.

Keywords

benthivorous fishbiodiversity lossbioturbationenclosuresize-structured interactions