Bigheaded Carps: A Biological Synopsis and Environmental Risk Assessment

Chapter 4: Native and Introduced Distributions of Bigheaded Carps


The bighead carp Hypophthalmichthys nobilis is native to eastern China, eastern Siberia, and extreme North Korea (Figure 4.1). It occurs in rivers of southeastern Russia (mouths of the Tumannaya and Razdolnaya rivers of the Primorsky District, Russia, south of the Amur [Heilongjiang] River, along the China, Russia, and North Korea borders; Shedko 2001), southward in rivers of the North China Plain including the Yellow (Huanghe) and Yangtze (Changjiang) rivers (Figures 4.2, 4.3) and southern China including the Pearl (Zhujiang) River. The native range of bighead carp has been reported to be 47° to 24°N (Hseih 1973; Shedko 2001). Nevertheless, Chen et al. (1998) reported a range of 47°N (Amur River Basin, where it is an introduced species; Krykhtin 1972) to approximately 21°N (Hainan Island, another introduction; Chen 1998). The actual native range of this species may never be determined accurately because this species has been widely introduced in eastern Asia (Li and Xie 2002).

Mean annual air temperature in the native range of bighead carp ranges from–4°C (Manchurian Plain region) to 24°C in southern China (Hseih 1973). During the coolest month (January), air temperature ranges from–30°C or below and in the northern areas to 40°C in southern China during the warmest month (July).

Bighead carp occur in rivers, lakes, and reservoirs, but are reported to require rivers for spawning (Jennings 1988; Robison and Buchanan 1988; Opuszynski and Shireman 1995). In their native China, bighead and silver carp H. molitrix comprise more than 60% of the total catch from reservoirs. The total catch of all fish species from Chinese reservoirs in 1998 was 1,294,000 metric tons (Huang et al. 2001).