Fish assemblages in deep Italian subalpine lakes: history and present status with an emphasis on non-native species.
We provide a comprehensive overview of the status of fish assemblages in eight Italian subalpine lakes using multiple data sources: historical records, standardised sampling and fishery catch statistics. Thirty-four fish species were recorded, twenty of which are native, seven introduced historically and another seven introduced recently. The number of fish species in individual lakes has increased by between 25 and 65% from 1855 to the present, with the increase being higher in the larger lakes. Non-native species contributed between 4.0 and 71.5% to standardised catches by numbers and between 4.8 and 65.1% by biomass. Roach Rutilus rutilus and pumpkinseed Lepomis gibbosus dominated electrofishing and benthic catches by number, while open-water catches were dominated by the coregonids European whitefish Coregonus lavaretus and gangfish Coregonus macrophthalmus. In terms of biomass, electrofishing catches were dominated by crucian carp Carassius carassius, largemouth bass Micropterus salmoides and wels catfish Silurus glanis, benthic catches were dominated by roach, European whitefish and crucian carp, and open-water catches by coregonids. Commercial fisheries are important ecosystem services provided by subalpine lakes, with their harvests now dominated by non-native species. To deliver effective biodiversity conservation and ecosystem services provision, the prioritisation of targets and interventions of management of non-native species is needed.