Impacts of the alien mosquitofish on the abundance and condition of two Mediterranean native fish.
The rapid decline of the Greek native Valencia letourneuxi, and its recently described sister species Valencia robertae, has been often attributed to habitat degradation, as well as aggression from or resource competition with the alien mosquitofish Gambusia holbrooki. The mosquitofish is extremely wide-spread in Mediterranean freshwater ecosystems, however, documentation on its presumed negative impacts on native freshwater fishes is limited. In this study, we compared abundance, condition and gonad weight of Valencia spp. in no co-occurrence versus co-occurrence to the mosquitofish, using data collected from eight aquatic systems of Greece, over a five year period (2005 to 2009). Our results show that Valencia abundance is significantly lower in co-occurrence to the Eastern mosquitofish. Furthermore, female Valencia spp. individuals in co-occurrence to the mosquitofish were smaller in length and had poorer somatic condition compared to females in habitats not invaded by the mosquitofish. The mechanisms responsible for these effects of the alien mosquitofish as well as the conservation implications for native Valencia populations are discussed.