Ecosystem responses to aquatic invasive species management: a synthesis of two decades of bigheaded carp suppression in a large river.
The invasion of silver carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix) and bighead carp (H. nobilis) or "bigheaded carps" has caused extensive ecological and economic harm throughout the Mississippi River and its tributaries. To prevent their continued spread upstream toward the Great Lakes, intense commercial harvest was implemented on the Illinois River, a large tributary that connects the Mississippi River to Lake Michigan. Since implementation, harvest has reduced densities at the invasion front while also presenting an opportunity to generate a synthesis on ecosystem resilience in the face of accelerating invasion. Resilience, the ability of an ecosystem to recover after perturbation, was observed at local scales and within some taxa but has yet to manifest at a river-wide scale and often co-varied with abiotic environmental or seasonal factors. Thus, while intensive harvest has limited further spread of bigheaded carps, and evidence of additional secondary ecosystem benefits exists, opportunities remain to identify potential pathways that could spread such ecosystem benefits even farther.