Undesirable immigrants: hobbyist vivaria as a potential source of alien invertebrate species.
Background. Small size and large diversity of adaptations make invertebrates a group of animals which can be easily transported by different human activities. Many species can travel as "hitchhikers" with plant material (both on plant surfaces and in the soil), including plants used for decoration in vivaria. Vivaria are often tropical in nature environments, with high temperatures and humidity, suitable for invertebrates from tropical regions. Although many of such invertebrates cannot survive in temperate regions where harsh weather conditions are present, it is also known that some can successfully acclimatise. As a result, their negative impact on local flora and fauna cannot be excluded. Material and methods. Terrestrial invertebrates were collected in several cities of Poland from tropical vivaria where poison dart frogs (Dendrobatidae) and/or orchids (Orchidaceae) were kept by hobbyists. Collecting of the material was preceded by a simple questionnaire placed on the biggest Polish forum devoted to poison dart frogs. Moreover, we contacted some Polish wholesalers offering tropical invertebrates (Isopoda and Collembola), used as the food source for frogs, hoping to receive information about locations where those invertebrates were delivered, over the period of one year. We obtained mtDNA barcodes using the COI marker (cytochrome c oxidase subunit I gene) for seven potential morphospecies. Results. In total, 12 taxa classified as Turbellaria, Annelida, Gastropoda, Isopoda, Diplopoda, Chilopoda and Collembola were collected and preserved in pure ethanol. We collected material and/or information from 65 locations, including 56 cities to which exotic isopods and springtails were sold by wholesalers over the period of nine months (average number per month = 18 cities). We obtained 18 COI sequences which were assigned to seven BINs and thus confirmed identification of seven species. The results indicate that the number of species transported with exotic plants is not small and can be observed regularly. Species noted as "hitchhikers" on plant structures and/or as inhabitants of soil in plant pots, originally came from South and Central America, Africa, Asia and possibly from North America or Southern Europe. Three taxa were noted for the first time from Poland, including Rhynchodemus sylvaticus (Rhynchodemidae), Trichorhina sp.1 (Platharthridae), and Guppya gundlachi (Euconulidae). Discussion. The presented study clearly shows that an exotic hobby such as keeping tropical poison dart frogs and/or orchids may promote fast and uncontrolled dispersion of a high number of invertebrates classified in different taxonomical groups. Plant material (green elements of plants and the soil in which they are planted) used in vivaria can be an important source of such animals.