Invasion frustration: can biotic resistance explain the small geographic range of non-native croaking gourami Trichopsis vittata (Cuvier, 1831) in Florida, USA?
Croaking gourami Trichopsis vittata is a non-native fish species that has maintained a reproducing population in Florida, USA, since at least the 1970s. However, unlike most other non-native fishes in Florida, T. vittata has not spread beyond its very small (ca. 5 km2) range. We suspected the inability of T. vittata to colonize new habitats may be due to biotic resistance by the native eastern mosquitofishGambusia holbrooki. In laboratory experiments, we show that G. holbrooki causes physical damage to T. vittata and that T. vittata's growth is reduced in the presence of G. holbrooki. While the effects of G. holbrooki on T. vittata were sub-lethal, they were severe enough to hamper its growth and could affect recruitment in the wild. These results support the hypothesis that small non-native fishes may be excluded from establishment or may only establish small ranges due to pressure from G. holbrooki. Biotic resistance may reduce invasion success and thus consideration of species interactions is useful for natural resource managers trying to evaluate the potential risk of new invaders.