Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences

Large, regulated forest floodplain is an ideal recruitment zone for non-native common carp (Cyprinus carpio L.)

Ivor G. Stuart A B and Matthew Jones A

A Freshwater Ecology, Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research, Department of Sustainability and Environment, 123 Brown St, Heidelberg, Vic. 3084, Australia.

B Corresponding author. Email:

Marine and Freshwater Research 57(3) 337-347
Submitted: 28 February 2005  Accepted: 8 February 2006   Published: 27 April 2006


Non-native common carp (Cyprinus carpio L.) are the most abundant large-bodied fish in the Murray–Darling Basin. The abundance of common carp larvae and young-of-the-year appears to increase after flooding, although the relative contribution of floodplain habitats compared to riverine areas remains unresolved. Larval nets were used monthly from September 2000 to January 2001 to identify common carp spawning and recruitment areas in the regulated Murray River and floodplain around the Barmah–Millewa forest. Five non-native and five native fish species comprising 136?111 individuals were collected, with common carp constituting 88% of the overall catch. Less than 1% of common carp, however, originated from the Murray River upstream of the Barmah–Millewa floodplain. Consequently, this floodplain appears to be a major source of common carp recruitment in the mid-Murray area. Conversely, eggs from large-bodied native fish were only present in the Murray River and not the Barmah floodplain. There are opportunities for common carp control in this area, to potentially reduce populations in a wider river reach. Implementation of common carp control measures in the Barmah–Millewa floodplain should be further investigated, particularly with regard to seasonal irrigation flows, obligatory migration routes and in the timing of future large-scale environmental water allocations.

Extra keywords: Australia, Barmah–Millewa forest, floodplain, lake, Murray River.


Bren L. J.1988Effects of river regulation on flooding of a riparian red gum forest on the Murray River, Australia.Regulated Rivers: Research and Management26578

Brown P.Walker T. I.2004CARPSIM: stochastic simulation modelling of wild carp (Cyprinus carpio L.) population dynamics, with applications to pest control.Ecological Modelling1768397

Brown P.Green C.Sivakumaran K. P.Giles A.Stoessel D.2004Validating otolith annuli for use in age-determination of carp (Cyprinus carpio L.) from Victoria, Australia.Transactions of the American Fisheries Society133190196doi:10.1577/T02-148

Brown P.Sivakumaran K. P.Stoessel D.Giles A.2005Population biology of carp (Cyprinus carpio L.) in the mid-Murray River and Barmah forest wetlands, Australia.Marine and Freshwater Research5611511164doi:10.1071/MF05023

Cadwallader P. L. (1977). ‘J. O. Langtry’s 1949–50 Murray River Investigations.’ Fisheries and Wildlife Paper 13. Melbourne.

Cadwallader P. L.1978Some causes of the decline in range and abundance of native fish in the Murray-Darling River system.Proceedings of the Royal Society of Victoria90211224

Caughley G. (1979). What is this thing called carrying capacity? In ‘North American Elk: Ecology, Behavior and Management’. (Eds M. S. Boyce and L. D. Hayden-Wing.) pp. 2–8. (University of Wyoming Press: Laramie, WY.)

Chesterfield E. A.1986Changes in the vegetation of the river red gum forest at Barmah, Victoria.Australian Forestry49415

Chick J. H.Pegg M. A.2001Invasive carp in the Mississippi River Basin.Science29222502251

Chong J.Ladson A. R.2003Analysis and management of unseasonal flooding in the Barmah-Millewa forest, Australia.River Research and Management19161180doi:10.1002/RRA.705

Crivelli A. J.1981The biology of the common carp, Cyprinus carpio L. in the Camargue, southern France.Journal of Fish Biology18271290doi:10.1111/J.1095-8649.1981.TB03769.X

Dexter B. D.Rose H. J.Davies N.1986River regulation and associated forest management problems in the River Murray red gum forests.Australian Forestry491627

Driver P. D.Harris J. H.Closs G. P.Koen T. B.2005Effects of flows regulation on carp (Cyprinus carpio L.) recruitment in the Murray-Darling Basin, Australia.River Research and Management21327335

Fletcher A. R.Morison A. K.Hume D. J.1985Effects of carp (Cyprinus carpio L.), on communities of aquatic vegetation and turbidity of waterbodies in the lower Goulburn River basin.Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research36311327doi:10.1071/MF9850311

Forsyth D. M.Caley P.2006Testing the irruptive paradigm of large herbivore dynamics.Ecology87297303

Gehrke P. C.1990Spatial and temporal dispersion patterns of golden perch, Macquaria ambigua, larvae in an artificial floodplain environment.Journal of Fish Biology37225236

Harris J. H., and Gehrke P. C. (1997). ‘Fish and Rivers in Stress – The NSW Rivers Survey.’ (NSW Fisheries Office of Conservation and the Cooperative Research Centre for Freshwater Ecology: Sydney.)

Humphries P.Lake P. S.2000Fish larvae and the management of regulated rivers.Regulated Rivers: Research and Management16421432doi:10.1002/1099-1646(200009/10)16:5<421::AID-RRR594>3.0.CO;2-4

Junk W. J.Bayley P. B.Sparks R. E.1989The flood pulse concept in river-floodplain systems.Canadian Special Publication of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences106110127

King A. J.Humphries P.Lake P. S.2003Fish recruitment on floodplains: the roles of patterns of flooding and life history characteristics.Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences60773786

King A. J.Crook D. A.Koster W. M.Mahoney J.Tonkin Z.2005Comparison of larval drift in the Lower Goulburn and mid-Murray rivers.Ecological Management and Restoration6136138doi:10.1111/J.1442-8903.2005.230-3.X

Koehn J. D.2004Carp (Cyprinus carpio) as a powerful invader in Australian waterways.Freshwater Biology49882894doi:10.1111/J.1365-2427.2004.01232.X

Koehn J. D.Harrington D. J.2005Collection and distribution of the early life stages of Murray cod (Maccullochella peelii peelii) in a regulated river.Australian Journal of Zoology53137144doi:10.1071/ZO04086

Koehn J. D.MacKenzie R. F.2004Priority management actions for alien freshwater fish species in Australia.New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research38457472

Koehn J. D., Brumley A. R., and Gehrke P. C. (2000). ‘Managing the Impacts of Carp.’ (Bureau of Rural Sciences: Canberra.)

Leslie D. J. (1995). Moira Lake: a case study of the deterioration of a River Murray natural resource. M.Sc. Thesis, University of Melbourne, Melbourne.

Leslie D. J.2001Effect of river management on colonially-nesting waterbirds in the Barmah-Millewa forest, south-eastern Australia.Regulated Rivers: Research and Management172136

Lougheed V. L.Chow-Fraser P.2001Spatial variability in the response of lower trophic levels after carp exclusion from a freshwater marsh.Journal of Aquatic Ecosystem Stress and Recovery92134doi:10.1023/A:1013180330252

Loyn R. H.Lumsden L. F.Ward K. A.2002Vertebrate fauna of Barmah Forest, a large forest of river red gum Eucalyptus camaldulensis on the floodplain of the Murray River.The Victorian Naturalist119230248

Mallen-Cooper M. (1999). Developing fishways for non-salmonid fishes; a case study from the Murray River in Australia. In ‘Innovations in Fish Passage Technology’. (Ed. M. Odeh.) pp. 173–195. (American Fisheries Society: Bethesda, MD.)

Mallen-Cooper M.Stuart I. G.2003Age, growth and non-flood recruitment of two potamodromous fishes in a large semi-arid/temperate river system.River Research and Applications19697719

McCrimmon H. R.1968Carp in Canada.Bulletin of the Fisheries Research Board of Canada165193

McKinnon L. J.1995Emersion of Murray crayfish, Euastacus armatus (Decapods: Parastacidae), from the Murray River due to post flooding hypoxia.Proceedings of the Royal Society of Victoria1073138

McKinnon L. J.Shepheard N.1995Factors contributing to a fish kill in the Broken Creek.Victorian Naturalist1129399

Meronek T. G.Bouchard P. M.Buckner E. R.Burri T. M.Demmerly K. K.Hateli D. C.Klumb R. A.Schmidt S. H.Coble D. W.1996A review of fish control projects.North American Journal of Fisheries Management166374

Nicol S. J.Lieschke J. A.Lyon J. P.Koehn J. D.2004Observations on the distribution and abundance of common carp and native fish, and their response to a habitat restoration trial in the Murray River, Australia.New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research38541552

Propst D. L.Gido K. B.2004Responses of native and non-native fishes to natural flow regime mimicry in the San Juan River.Transactions of the American Fisheries Society133922931

Reichard S. H.2004Conflicting values and common goals: codes of conduct to reduce the threat of invasive species.Weed Technology1815031507

Reid M. A.Brooks J. J.2000Detecting the effects of environmental water allocations in wetlands of the Murray-Darling Basin, Australia.Regulated Rivers: Research and Management16479496

Reynolds L. F.1983Migration patterns of five fish species in the Murray-Darling river system.Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research34857871doi:10.1071/MF9830857

Roberts J.Chick A.Oswald L.Thomson P.1995Effect of carp, Cyprinus carpio L., an exotic benthivorous fish, on aquatic plants and water quality in experimental ponds.Marine and Freshwater Research4611711180doi:10.1071/MF9951171

Rowland S. J.1998Aspects of the reproductive biology of Murray cod, Maccullochella peelii peelii.Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales120147162

Shields J. T.1957Experimental control of carp reproduction through water drawdowns in Fort Randall reservoir, South Dakota.Transactions of the American Fisheries Society872333

Sivakumaran K. P.Brown P.Stoessel D.Giles A.2003Maturation and reproductive biology of female wild carp, Cyprinus carpio, in Victoria, Australia.Environmental Biology of Fishes68321332doi:10.1023/A:1027381304091

Smith B. B.Walker K. F.2004Spawning dynamics of common carp in the River Murray, South Australia, shown by macroscopic and histological staging of gonads.Journal of Fish Biology64336354doi:10.1111/J.0022-1112.2004.00293.X

Sommer T. R., Harrell W. C., Kurth R., Feyrer F., Zeug S. C., and O’Leary G. (2004). Ecological patterns of early life stages of fishes in a large river-floodplain of the San Francisco estuary. American Fisheries Society Symposium 39, 111–123.

Swee U. B.McCrimmon H. R.1966Reproductive biology of the carp, Cyprinus carpio L., in Lake St. Lawrence, Ontario.Transactions of the American Fisheries Society95372380doi:10.1577/1548-8659(1966)95[372:RBOTCC]2.0.CO;2

Taylor R. M.Pegg M. A.Chick J. H.2005Response of bighead carp to a bioacoustic behavioural fish guidance system.Fisheries Management and Ecology12283286doi:10.1111/J.1365-2400.2005.00446.X

Thresher R. E. (1997). Physical removal as an option for the control of feral carp populations. In ‘Controlling Carp Exploring Options for Australia’. (Eds J. Roberts and R. Tilzey.) pp. 58–73. (CSIRO: Albury, Australia.)

Turner T. F.Trexler J. C.Miller G. L.Toyer K. E.1994Temporal and spatial dynamics of larval and juvenile fish abundance in a temperate floodplain river.Copeia1994174183

Vilizzi L.1998Observations on ontogenetic shifts in the diet of 0+ carp, Cyprinus carpio L., from the River Murray, Australia.Folia Zoologica47225229

Walker K. F. (1992). The River Murray, Australia: a semiarid lowland river. In ‘The Rivers Handbook’. (Eds P. Calow and G. E. Petts.) pp. 472–492. (Blackwell Scientific Publications: Oxford.)

Walker K. F. (2001). A river transformed: the effects of weirs on the River Murray. In ‘The Proceedings of the Way Forward on Weirs’. (Ed. S. Blanch.) pp. 7–22. (Inland Rivers Network: Sydney.)

Export Citation