Impact of the invasive alien topmouth gudgeon (Pseudorasbora parva) and its associated parasite Sphaerothecum destruens on native fish species

Frank Spikmans, Pim Lemmers, Huub J.M. op den Camp, Emiel van Haren, Florian Kappen, Anko Blaakmeer, Gerard van der Velde*, Frank van Langevelde, Rob S.E.W. Leuven, Theo A. van Alen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


The Asian cyprinid Pseudorasbora parva is considered to be a major threat to native fish communities and listed as an invasive alien species of European Union concern. Our study aims to gain evidence-based knowledge on the impact of both P. parva and its parasite Sphaerothecum destruens on native fish populations by analysing fish assemblages and body condition of individuals of native fish species in floodplain water bodies that were invaded and uninvaded by P. parva. We explored the use of environmental DNA (eDNA) techniques to detect S. destruens. Prevalence of S. destruens in native fish species was assessed. Fish samplings showed significantly negative correlations between the abundance of P. parva and the native Leucaspius delineatus, and Pungitius pungitius and three biodiversity indices of the fish assemblages (Simpson’s diversity index, Shannon–Wiener index and evenness). Contrastingly, the abundances of the native Gasterosteus aculeatus and P. parva were positively related. In nearly all isolated water bodies with P. parva, this species is outnumbering native fish species. No effect of P. parva presence was found on body condition of native fish species. Sphaerothecum destruens was demonstrated to occur in both P. parva and G. aculeatus. Gasterosteus aculeatus is suggested to be an asymptomatic carrier that can aid the further spread of S. destruens. Analysis of eDNA proved to be a promising method for early detection of S. destruens, here showing that S. destruens presence coincided with P. parva presence. The ongoing invasion of both P. parva and S. destruens is predicted to pose a significant risk to native fish communities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)587-601
Number of pages15
JournalBiological Invasions
Issue number2
Early online date12 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020


  • Biodiversity threat
  • eDNA
  • Gasterosteus aculeatus
  • Leucaspius delineatus
  • Pathogen
  • Pungitius pungitius


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