Effectiveness and outcomes of invasive species removal in Hawaiian streams.
Despite aquatic invasive species (AIS) being a widely recognized threat to native biodiversity in streams on subtropical and tropical oceanic islands across the Pacific, AIS management has been constrained by concerns that methods of removal could result in more harm than good. In this study, we assessed the effectiveness and outcomes of combining hand-netting and streamside sequestration of native species with AIS removal via three-pass electrofishing tailored for Hawaiian Island watersheds. Removals were conducted in 13 watersheds on the island of O'ahu following a before-after, control-impact design to assess how AIS removal and post-removal community reassembly varied by surface flow and target species of interest. We found that removals resulted in a sharp reduction in AIS densities without altering native species densities. Removal efficacy was greatest in streams with intermediate mean discharge irrespective of target group or pre-removal AIS densities. Long-term monitoring demonstrated that removals led to persistent shifts in community composition reflecting sustained reductions in AIS densities. These findings indicate that electrofishing can be a valuable tool for AIS management in Hawaiian and other subtropical Pacific island streams, so long as steps are taken to minimize potential harm to at-risk and culturally important native species.