• Global change;
  • invasive fish;
  • population establishment;
  • scale ageing


Plasticity in life-history traits provides advantages for introduced fish in overcoming demographic bottlenecks that would otherwise inhibit establishment. Here, the influence of population density, temperature and latitude was tested on the growth increments and growth rates of invasive populations of topmouth gudgeon Pseudorasbora parva, a small Asian cyprinid fish that is invasive across Europe. Aquaria experiments tested the roles of fish number and temperature on growth increments under a fixed food supply, pond experiments tested the role of density on growth increments, and a field study completed in England and Wales tested the influence of density and latitude on growth rates. In aquaria experiments, whilst growth increments were higher at 21 and 23 °C than at 19 and 25 °C, fish number had a greater influence on growth than temperature. Higher growth increments were produced at lower densities. In experimental ponds, growth increments were significantly higher in ponds with low densities of P. parva compared with those at elevated densities. In the field study comprising 10 wild populations across a latitudinal gradient of 4.0°N, a difference in mean air temperatures of approximately 3 °C, and estimated densities between 0.5 and 65.0 m−2, population density was the only significant predictor of growth rates. Whilst populations at very low densities comprised of significantly faster growing individuals, there were no significant differences when densities were between 15 and 65 m−2. Thus, invasive P. parva populations have considerable growth plasticity, especially at low densities, with this likely to be important in their ability to colonise new environments.