Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Environmental effects related to the local absence of exotic fish.

Abstract

Given the extent of biological invasions in industrialized countries, our understanding of the determinants of overall patterns of biological invasions could gain most from consideration of why exotic species are absent from some areas, rather than from distribution patterns of exotic species. Fish communities were sampled at 381 sites representing 221 rivers in the Adour-Garonne stream system (116 000 km2, SW France). Very few rivers were not colonized by exotic fish species, however, on a local basis, only 33% of the sampling sites hosted exotics. Using General Linear Modelling, we found that patterns of exotic fish (occurrence, number of species, proportion within assemblage) responded to both land-use and physical variables, whereas patterns of native fish only responded to the local meso-scale characteristics of each stream reach from headwaters to mouth. All fish communities were susceptible to invasion regardless of native species richness, and higher native species richness did not decrease the opportunity for establishment by exotic species. The likelihood that exotic fish are absent primarily increased with elevation and with lower human influence upon the land cover, while human-impacted landscapes (agricultural and urban areas) were more likely to host exotic fish and higher numbers of exotic species. In light of urban and agricultural development, our ability to detect responses of exotic species to landscape alterations using a combination of simple physical and land cover variables exemplifies a cost-effective technique for assessing areas at greater invasion risk in large stream systems.