Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Leuciscus leuciscus
(common dace)



Leuciscus leuciscus (common dace)


  • Last modified
  • 16 November 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Host Animal
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Leuciscus leuciscus
  • Preferred Common Name
  • common dace
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Metazoa
  •     Phylum: Chordata
  •       Subphylum: Vertebrata
  •         Class: Actinopterygii
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • The common dace can be considered an invasive species outside its native range because it has the ecological characteristics of recognized successful invaders. It is a feeding generalist (i.e. debris, small invertebra...

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Common dace (Leuciscus leuciscus); adult, length ca.16 cm. Caught in the Lipetsk oblast, Russia.
CaptionCommon dace (Leuciscus leuciscus); adult, length ca.16 cm. Caught in the Lipetsk oblast, Russia.
CopyrightAlexander Suvorov, the creator of this work, has released it into the public domain. This applies worldwide, where possible.
Common dace (Leuciscus leuciscus); adult, length ca.16 cm. Caught in the Lipetsk oblast, Russia.
AdultCommon dace (Leuciscus leuciscus); adult, length ca.16 cm. Caught in the Lipetsk oblast, Russia.Alexander Suvorov, the creator of this work, has released it into the public domain. This applies worldwide, where possible.


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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Leuciscus leuciscus (Linnaeus, 1758)

Preferred Common Name

  • common dace

Other Scientific Names

  • Cyprinus dobula Linnaeus, 1758
  • Cyprinus graining Walbaum, 1792
  • Cyprinus grislagine Linnaeus, 1758
  • Cyprinus lancastriensis Shaw, 1804
  • Cyprinus leuciscus Linnaeus, 1758
  • Cyprinus mugilis Vallot, 1837
  • Cyprinus salax Gronow, 1854
  • Cyprinus simus Römer-Büchner, 1827
  • Cyprinus squalus Walbaum, 1792
  • Cyprinus umbra Walbaum, 1792
  • Idus stagnalis Dubalen, 1913
  • Leuciscus argenteus Fitzinger, 1832
  • Leuciscus dobula Linnaeus, 1758
  • Leuciscus leuciscus baicalensis kirgisorum Berg, 1912
  • Leuciscus leuciscus roulei Bertin & Estève, 1948
  • Leuciscus majalis Agassiz, 1835
  • Leuciscus rodens Agassiz, 1835
  • Leuciscus rostratus Agassiz, 1835
  • Leuciscus rostratus Valenciennes, 1844
  • Leuciscus saltator Bonaparte, 1845
  • Leuciscus vulgaris Fleming, 1828
  • Squalidus baicalensis non Dybowski, 1874
  • Squalius chalybeius Heckel, 1852
  • Squalius lepusculus Heckel, 1852
  • Squalius leuciscus elata Fatio, 1882
  • Squalius leuciscus elongata Fatio, 1882
  • Squalius leuciscus lateristriga Fatio, 1882
  • Squalius mehdem Warpachowski, 1897
  • Squalius vulgaris argenteus Walecki, 1863
  • Squalius vulgaris leptorhinus Walecki, 1863
  • Squalius vulgaris minor Walecki, 1863
  • Squalius vulgaris robustior Walecki, 1863

International Common Names

  • English: dace; darsen; graining; hasel
  • Spanish: leucisco
  • French: accourcie; assée; aubour; chevaine vaudois; coucie; dard; gandoise; poinonet; rouzau; sièje; sièjo; vandoise
  • Russian: elets obyknovennyi; eletz
  • Arabic: keltschi; myk

Local Common Names

  • Austria: Hasel
  • Azerbaijan: eletz
  • Belarus: eletz; kljanjek; yal’chik; yaletz
  • Bulgaria: klen
  • Croatia: rießling
  • Czech Republic: belauš; belice; jalec obycajny; jelec; proudník; vodní zajícek
  • Denmark: almindelig Strømskalle; strømskalle
  • Estonia: teib
  • Finland: korpiainen; seipi
  • Germany: Angelfish; Dase; Döbel; Fase; Hasel; Hasele; Hasila; Häsling; Laschen; Luke; Merzling; Nefel; Nestling; Rießling; Schnädel; Schnörgel; Schnottfisch; Spitzhassel; Springer; Stämm; Stichhassel; Urban; Weißbleier; Zinnfisch
  • Hungary: nyuldomolykó
  • Ireland: deas
  • Latvia: baltais sapals; eletz
  • Lithuania: baltalis sapals; strepetys
  • Netherlands: gruis; hesseling; serpeling; springer
  • Norfolk Island: gullbust; haslong
  • Norway: gullbust; haslong
  • Poland: jelec; nestling; salez
  • Romania: clean; clean mic
  • Serbia: klenic
  • Slovakia: jalec obycajný
  • Slovenia: klenic
  • Sweden: Stäm
  • Ukraine: alych; eletz; jal’chyk; jalec’; jalych; kljuvak; verbljanyk

Summary of Invasiveness

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The common dace can be considered an invasive species outside its native range because it has the ecological characteristics of recognized successful invaders. It is a feeding generalist (i.e. debris, small invertebrates, etc.) but usually has a high plant content in its diet. In addition it has high fecundity, fast growth rate and is considered tolerant of anthropogenic pressures. It is a long-lived, highly mobile fish due to its pelagic condition. Humans may also facilitate its spread due to its value as a bait species in recreational fishing. It is common in river backwaters and considered a nuisance because it invades salmonid fisheries. It is a common species in aquaculture (FAO, 1997).

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Metazoa
  •         Phylum: Chordata
  •             Subphylum: Vertebrata
  •                 Class: Actinopterygii
  •                     Order: Cypriniformes
  •                         Family: Cyprinidae
  •                             Genus: Leuciscus
  •                                 Species: Leuciscus leuciscus

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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Populations from Siberia and East Asia usually referred to Leuciscus leuciscus are distinct species, Leuciscus baicalensis and Leuciscus dzungaricus (Kottelat and Freyhof, 2007).


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The common dace (L. leuciscus) is a freshwater fish (Cyprinidae family) that reaches 15 cm TL male/unsexed (Muus and Dahlström, 1968), with a maximum reported length of 40 cm TL male/unsexed (Billard, 1993). It has 2-3 dorsal spines in total, 7-9 dorsal soft rays, 3 anal spines, 7-9 anal soft rays and 42-46 vertebrae. The maximum weight reported is 1000 g (Billard, 1993), and maximum reported age is 16 years (Zhukov, 1965; Wüstemann and Kammerad, 1995). The common dace has a fast growth rate and it can reach up to 85 mm SL in the first year.


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Europe and Asia: North, Baltic, White and Barents Sea basins; Caspian basin, in Volga and Ural drainages; Black Sea basin, from Danube to Dnieper drainages; Atlantic basin, in Seine drainage; Mediterranean basin from Rhône to Arc drainages (France). It has a localized distribution in Romania, Scandinavia and in central Finland (Kottelat and Freyhof, 2007).

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes


AfghanistanPresentNative Not invasive Coad, 1981Freshwater. Occurs in adjacent or contiguous drainage basins to Afghanistan
ArmeniaPresentNative Not invasive Blanc et al., 1971Freshwater
AzerbaijanPresentNative Not invasive Blanc et al., 1971Freshwater
Georgia (Republic of)PresentNative Not invasive Blanc et al., 1971Freshwater, brackish
KazakhstanPresent Not invasive Blanc et al., 1971Freshwater. Introduced in Lake Balkhash. Status uncertain, possibly introduced or outside distributional range


AustriaWidespreadNative Not invasive Blanc et al., 1971Freshwater, gamefish, near threatened
BelarusWidespreadNative Not invasive Blanc et al., 1971Freshwater
BelgiumWidespreadNative Not invasive Blanc et al., 1971Freshwater, brackish
Bosnia-HercegovinaWidespreadNative Not invasive Gerstmeier and Romig, 1998Freshwater
CroatiaWidespreadNative Not invasive Gerstmeier and Romig, 1998Freshwater
Czech RepublicWidespreadNative Not invasive Gerstmeier and Romig, 1998Freshwater. Occurs in Morava river basin. Least concern
DenmarkWidespreadNative Not invasive Muus and Dahlström, 1990; Frier, 1994Freshwater, brackish. Bait. Occurs in watercourses in Southwest Jutland
EstoniaWidespreadNative Not invasive Blanc et al., 1971; Anon, 1999Freshwater, brackish. Common in the Gulf of Riga and Gulf of Finland
FinlandWidespreadNative Not invasive Koli, 1990; Winkler et al., 2000Freshwater. Occurs on the coast and in the river mouths flowing to the sea, inland populations common North of Oulujoki water course and in eastern Finland. Very localized in most of central Finland
FranceWidespreadNative Not invasive Allardi and Keith, 1991; Keith et al., 2001Freshwater, brackish. Common in most regions. Absent from extreme south-east and Roussillon. Its biotope has to be protected
GermanyWidespreadNative Not invasive Wheeler, 1975; Spratte and Hartmann, 1997; Gerstmeier and Romig, 1998Freshwater, brackish. Usually not seen. Endangered in 1994
HungaryWidespreadNative Not invasive Blanc et al., 1971Freshwater, brackish
IrelandRestricted distributionIntroduced1889 Invasive Went, 1957; Welcomme, 1988; Caffrey et al., 2007Freshwater, brackish. First introduced to Munster Blackwater. Since 1990s also recorded in the lower reaches of the River Shannon, in Doon Lake (Co. Clare) and in the Rivers Barrow and Nore
LatviaWidespreadNative Not invasive Blanc et al., 1971; Winkler et al., 2000Freshwater, brackish
LithuaniaWidespreadNative Not invasive Blanc et al., 1971; Winkler et al., 2000Freshwater, brackish
MoldovaWidespreadNative Not invasive Blanc et al., 1971Freshwater
NetherlandsWidespreadNative Not invasive Blanc et al., 1971; Nijssen and Groot, 1974Freshwater, brackish. Fairly common
NorwayWidespreadBlanc et al., 1971Not confirmed. Freshwater, brackish
PolandWidespreadNative Not invasive Blanc et al., 1971; Winkler et al., 2000Freshwater, brackish. Usually not seen
RomaniaWidespreadNative Not invasive Blanc et al., 1971; Kottelat and Freyhof, 2007Freshwater, brackish. Very localized in Danube main river
Russian FederationWidespreadNative Not invasive Reshetnikov et al., 1997; Winkler et al., 2000Freshwater, brackish. Occurs in rivers running into the Baltic Sea, lakes Ladoga and Onega, the European region of the basin of the Arctic Ocean from the Varzuga and Kem to the Pechora, rivers of the Black Sea basin from the Dnieper to Mius, the Volga and Ural rivers, and in the Asian region of the Arctic Ocean from the Ob to Kolyma
SlovakiaWidespreadNative Not invasive Gerstmeier and Romig, 1998Freshwater
SloveniaWidespreadNative Not invasive Gerstmeier and Romig, 1998Freshwater
SwedenWidespreadNative Not invasive Blanc et al., 1971; Kullander, 1999Freshwater. Occurrence: Native and regular
SwitzerlandWidespreadNative Not invasive Blanc et al., 1971Freshwater. Fairly common. In most rivers and lakes
UKWidespreadNative Not invasive Wheeler, 1992Freshwater, brackish. Native to UK but introduced to Loch Lomond
UkraineWidespreadNative Not invasive Blanc et al., 1971Freshwater, brackish

History of Introduction and Spread

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In Ireland, common dace gained access to the country through the accidental release of bait fish by British pike anglers and its spread to other watercourses has probably been expedited by coarse anglers wanting to improve the fishing amenity (Caffrey et al., 2007). 


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Introduced toIntroduced fromYearReasonIntroduced byEstablished in wild throughReferencesNotes
Natural reproductionContinuous restocking
Ireland England and Wales 1889 Yes Yes FAO (1997) Gained access to the country through the accidental release of bait fish

Risk of Introduction

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The common dace is without interest to the aquarium trade, but is considered a valuable species in aquaculture (FAO, 1997) and also has interest as a bait fish and angling species. Therefore, recreational fishing, escapes from aquaculture facilities and interconnection of waterways represent the main pathways of introduction into other locations.


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The common dace is a gregarious rheophilous and epipelagic fish species (Billard, 1993). Adults aggregate in dense swarms in winter in the lower reaches of rivers or backwaters and often migrate to spawning streams in autumn and overwinter there. Juveniles spend winter in cavities along the shores. The species inhabits shallow shoreline habitats as juveniles and faster-flowing waters as adults (Kottelat and Freyhof, 2007).

Habitat List

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Irrigation channels Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Lakes Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Reservoirs Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Rivers / streams Principal habitat Natural
Ponds Secondary/tolerated habitat Productive/non-natural
Estuaries Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Lagoons Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural

Biology and Ecology

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Some genetic records were listed with the same values in South Pyrenees, former Yugoslavia and other unspecified localities. Haploid/gametic chromosome number (n) is 25, whereas diploid/zygotic chromosome number (2n) is 50-50 (Sofradzija, 1977; Hafez et al., 1978; Vasil’ev, 1980; Arkhipchuk, 1999). DNA analysis of this species is included in Perea et al. (2010).

Reproductive Biology

Sokolov and Berdicheskii (1989) reported that common dace regularly undertake migration of some tens of kilometres to spawning sites, which are often situated in tributaries.

The species spawns for the first time at 2–3 years and standard length 11–14 cm (Cepkyn, 2002). Common dace usually spawns only once or twice during its life, in March-April when temperatures reach 5–10ºC (Zhukov, 1965). Males form large aggregations, each male defending a small territory. Females spawn only once a year and, in some populations, during a very short period (3-5 days). Females lay sticky eggs into excavations made in gravel. Fecundity is estimated at between 1550 and 22600 eggs (Zhukov, 1965; Movchan and Smirnov, 1981). Larvae feed along shores.

Physiology and Phenology

The water temperature tolerance range is 4-28ºC. The tolerance range for other water parameters has not yet been published.


L. leuciscus lives up to 10 years (Kottelat and Freyhof, 2007). Maximum reported age is 16 years (Wüstemann and Kammerad, 1995).


L. leuciscus feeds on plants, small invertebrates and detritus (Kottelat and Freyhof, 2007). Diet composition may vary seasonally (Weatherly, 1987). The gut content of specimens captured in September in the River Dee, UK, is shown below:

Natural food sources Life stage Contribution to total food intake %
Plants, benthic algae, weeds   49
Detritus, debris   29.1
Zoobenthos, aerial insects Larval 18.5
Other plants, phytoplankton, diatoms   3.2
Zoobenthos, insects (Chironomidae) Larval 1.2

Environmental Requirements

Fast-flowing waters.

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)

Water Tolerances

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ParameterMinimum ValueMaximum ValueTypical ValueStatusLife StageNotes
Velocity (cm/h) Optimum Prefers fast flowing waters
Water pH (pH) 6.0 8.0 Optimum
Water temperature (ºC temperature) 4 28 Optimum Leuven et al., 2011

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Alcedo atthis Predator Juveniles
Ardea cinerea Predator Adults
Buteo buteo Predator Adults/Juveniles
Circus aeruginosus Predator Adults/Juveniles
Esox lucius Predator Adults/Juveniles
Haliaeetus albicilla Predator Adults
Larus Predator Adults/Juveniles
Lota lota Predator Adults/Juveniles
Lutra lutra Predator Adults/Juveniles
Milvus Predator Adults/Juveniles
Oncorhynchus mykiss Predator Adults/Juveniles
Pandion haliaetus Predator Adults
Perca fluviatilis Predator Adults/Juveniles
Phalacrocorax carbo Predator Adults/Juveniles
Podiceps Predator Adults/Juveniles
Salmo trutta fario Predator Adults/Juveniles
Strix aluco Predator Adults/Juveniles

Notes on Natural Enemies

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All piscivorous animals, native or introduced, are potential natural enemies of the common dace.

Predation by Squalius cephalus (Cyprinidae), Lota lota (Lotidae), Perca fluviatilis (Percidae), Oncorhynchus mykiss and Salmo trutta (Salmonidae) has been reported in Germany (Wüstemann and Kammerad, 1995) and by Esox lucius (Esocidae) in the River Frome, UK (Maitland and Campbell, 1992).

Although fish are not the main prey item for many raptors, juveniles and adults of common dace have been found in the gut content of Buteo buteo, Circus aeruginosus,Milvus sp. and Strix aluco in Germany (Wüstemann and Kammerad, 1995). Otherwise, common dace can be a common prey item for specialized piscivorous raptors such as Haliaeetus albicilla and Pandion haliaetus and for other waterbirds (Podiceps sp., Phalacrocorax carbo,Ardea cinerea,Larus sp. and Alcedo atthis (Wüstemann and Kammerad, 1995).

Only one mammalian predator of common dace is reported: Lutra lutra (European otter; Procyonidae). It feeds on both juvenile and adult forms (Wüstemann and Kammerad, 1995).

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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L. leuciscus is a potamodromous species (Riede, 2004). The range of migration is 10°W to 155°E and 72°N to 41°N.

Its small size added to its use as bait fish contribute to its dispersal.

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Acclimatization societies Yes
Aquaculture Yes Yes
Fisheries Yes
Intentional release Yes
Interbasin transfers Yes
Interconnected waterways Yes

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Bait Yes
Land vehicles Yes

Impact Summary

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Environment (generally) Negative

Environmental Impact

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L. leuciscus does not represent a risk for humans but it may cause changes in ecosystems (i.e. altering food web structures and nutrient cycling). In Ireland, it threatens native salmonids because dace, trout and salmon have similar habitat preferences. In the Munster Blackwater, efforts have been made to improve the spawning grounds for salmonids, but dace have moved into the area in large numbers successfully competing against the salmonids for spawning sites and also for food (Caffrey et al., 2007). Common dace may predate on juveniles of native species and there is a risk of hybridization with closely related fish species, in particular with other members of the Leuciscus genus.

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad native range
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Capable of securing and ingesting a wide range of food
  • Highly mobile locally
  • Benefits from human association (i.e. it is a human commensal)
  • Long lived
  • Fast growing
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Gregarious
Impact outcomes
  • Altered trophic level
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Modification of natural benthic communities
Impact mechanisms
  • Hybridization
  • Rapid growth
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally illegally
  • Difficult/costly to control


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The dace is considered a valuable species in aquaculture and as a bait fish species in recreational fishing. In Ireland it is also a target angling species with individual angling catches regularly in excess of 15 kg (Caffrey et al., 2007). It is not of interest to the aquarium trade.

Uses List

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Animal feed, fodder, forage

  • Bait/attractant


  • Sport (hunting, shooting, fishing, racing)


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The similar morphological traits between species of the Leuciscus genus require the aid of specialists to distinguish between them. The combination of morphological and genetic traits may also be necessary to ensure proper identification (particularly in juvenile specimens) and this procedure may also allow detection of hybrids.

Detection and Inspection

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The existence of stowaway species mixed with valuable species in ornamental or any other live fish stocks is not uncommon. The live fish trade therefore requires careful inspection by specialists in order to detect undesirable organisms which are often not labelled. In addition, the regular monitoring of current waters allows managers to detect new fish introductions and to know the spread patterns of exotic species once introduced. This information helps resource managers to identify areas at high risk of invasion and to plan local eradication programmes when possible. Electrofishing is a widely recognized method to catch fish without damaging the ecosystem in current waters. Nets are a complementary sampling tool for surveys performed in lakes or reservoirs.

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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Common dace can be distinguished from congeners in Europe by the following morphological traits: subinferior or subterminal mouth; subequal jaw, upper jaw slightly longer; upper lip tip about level with centre of eye; not projecting snout; articulation of lower jaw distinctly behind anterior margin of eye; horizontal branch of preoperculum shorter than vertical branch; and 40-50 + 1-2 scales on lateral line (Billard, 1993). Rarely longer than 30 cm TL; normally 47-52 scales in lateral line; anal fin concave; caudal fin forked with 19 rays (Wüstemann and Kammerad, 1995).

Prevention and Control

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Education programmes are needed to raise public awareness about the threats of introduced species to ecosystems. Regular monitoring of waters by trained specialists help to detect new invaders and newly invaded areas.


Complete eradication is almost impossible, particularly in large areas. Local extirpation of introduced fish species may be performed in areas of high conservation value and, in particular, in small streams where the probability of success increases.


Physical barriers and rotenone are commonly used to control small fish. Regular removal of specimens in small streams may mitigate the effect of exotic species.

Monitoring and Surveillance

Regular electrofishing surveys.


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Links to Websites

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Barcode of Life Data System (BOLD)
GISD/IASPMR: Invasive Alien Species Pathway Management Resource and DAISIE European Invasive Alien Species Gateway source for updated system data added to species habitat list.
World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS)


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Italy: FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, 00100 Rome,


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04/01/12 Original text by: 

Mònica Utjés Mascó, Department of Animal Biology & Research Institute of Biodiversity (IrBio), Faculty of Biology, University of Barcelona, Avda Diagonal, 643. E-08028 Barcelona, Spain

Alberto Maceda Veiga, Department of Animal Biology & Research Institute of Biodiversity (IrBio), Faculty of Biology, University of Barcelona, Avda Diagonal, 643. E-08028 Barcelona, Spain

The names of reviewers are available from CABI on request

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