Alien aquatic macroinvertebrates along the lateral dimension of a large floodplain.
Floodplains are simultaneously among the most species-rich and the most threatened ecosystems. Alien aquatic macroinvertebrates contribute to this threat but remain scarcely studied in the lateral dimension of floodplains. We modelled the realized ecological niches of the alien species occurring in 24 floodplain channels of the Rhône River. Environmental variables depicting the ecological niches were associated to the lateral hydrological connectivity and light availability, both being modified during floodplain restoration works. Eight alien species were observed and they demonstrated either ubiquity or a restricted niche, with no link to the date of introduction. For most of them, the main river channel appeared as an important dispersal route in the lateral dimension of the floodplain. An increase of both lateral connectivity and light availability favoured most of the modelled species. Consequently, we recommend that sector-scale restoration programmes preserve varying levels of lateral connectivity for floodplain channels to prevent the expansion of alien aquatic macroinvertebrates.