Predicting successful reproduction and establishment of non-native freshwater fish in peninsular Florida using life history traits.
Identification of factors that facilitate successful completion of invasion process stages by nonnative species is a major priority among invasion biologists. Stage-based analyses of non-native fish species traits have been conducted for several regions, but not for a subtropical non-native species hotspot like peninsular Florida. Typically, establishment is the first stage of analysis but Florida is home to many nonnative fish species that have successfully reproduced, yet failed to establish. Therefore, we used life history traits and three model types (categorical and regression trees, logistic regression, and discriminant analysis) to predict successful reproduction and establishment by non-native fishes in peninsular Florida. Statistical models for predicting both successful reproduction and establishment suggested parental care was the most important variable, but other traits included in the best models differ between the two stages. The high level of parental care in successful non-native fishes of Florida is unique among non-native freshwater fish faunas across the United States. Other studies also found that suites of traits used to predict various stages of the invasion process differ, suggesting that stage-based analyses provide a good foundation for better understanding invasion processes. Our results may be applied to stage-based risk screening tools for nonnative fishes in Florida.