Non-native poeciliids in hot water: the role of thermal springs in facilitating invasion of tropical species.
Livebearers in the family Poeciliidae are some of the most widely introduced fishes. Native poeciliid translocations within the U.S. are mostly due to deliberate stocking for mosquito control. Introductions of exotic poeciliids, those not native to the U.S., are more likely to be due to release from aquaria or escape from farms. Many of these non-natives originate from warm climate regions, contrasting with the relatively cold climates in the U.S. Thus, thermal springs may increase the possible range of these species. Our primary objective was to examine the importance of climate and thermal springs in affecting the distribution of translocated and non-native poeciliids in the U.S. This objective was addressed using a national database of poeciliid introductions. Records were dominated by a handful of states and most introductions led to established populations. While translocated mosquitofish were found across many states and climates, non-natives were found almost exclusively in warm climate states and territories (e.g., Florida, Hawaii, Puerto Rico), especially where air temperatures remained above freezing. Outside warm climate states, 46% of established non-native populations were located at thermal spring sources. These results indicate that thermal springs extend the distribution of non-natives, but were relatively unimportant for translocated poeciliids.