Estimating the invasion extent of Asian swamp eel (Monopterus: Synbranchidae) in an altered river of the south-eastern United States.
The first reported invasion of Asian swamp eels (Monopterus albus, ASE) in the continental United States was in the state of Georgia in 1994. This population was first discovered within several ponds on a private nature centre, but the ponds drained via an outflow pipe into marsh habitats along the Chattahoochee River. Our objective was to delineate the current invasion extent of ASE in the Chattahoochee River, Georgia, by sampling juvenile ASE within an occupancy modelling framework. We sampled 111 and 100 sites in 2015 and 2016 respectively, on 10 occasions, each within a 2-km radius of the purported invasion point to estimate the spatial extent of their invasion in this system. Leaf-litter traps (LLTs) were effective at documenting an increase in the invasion extent of ASE, from within 100 m of the Chattahoochee Nature Center pond outflow to 1.6 km away. Documenting the extent of invasion of this population has proven elusive in the past, but the use of LLTs to target juvenile eels has documented a larger invasion extent than previously known in the study system. The results of this research can be used to develop effective control and management strategies, such as locating potential breeding areas for targeted removal sampling.