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Tracking non-indigenous fishes in lotic ecosystems: Invasive patterns at different spatial scales in Greece

Koutsikos, Nicholas, Zogaris, Stamatis, Vardakas, Leonidas, Kalantzi, Olga-Ioanna, Dimitriou, Elias, Economou, Alcibiades N.
The Science of the total environment 2019 v.659 pp. 384-400
Carassius gibelio, European Union, Gambusia holbrooki, Lepomis gibbosus, Pseudorasbora parva, basins, ecoregions, fish, freshwater, highlands, introduced species, invasive species, lotic systems, rivers, screening, streams, uncertainty, watersheds, Greece
Mediterranean lotic waters such as rivers, streams and springs are poorly monitored for non-indigenous fish species (NIFS). Since these systems are stressed by multiple anthropogenic pressures, it is important to build robust procedures to track NIFS distribution and spread. This study applies a multi-faceted assessment of NIFS in the lotic ecosystems of Greece at different spatial scales by providing: a) a historical review of temporal patterns and arrival pathways of fish introductions in river basins of Greece (140 basins) across 100years; b) an analysis of occurrence and abundance data of NIFS assemblages at the lotic site scale (644 electrofished sites); c) the mapping of NIFS distributional patterns at river basin (75 basins) and regional scales (7 freshwater ecoregions); and, d) a vector analysis of fish translocations using an ecoregional framework. In total, 55 NIFS were recorded (25 alien and 30 translocated); however, there is a low incidence of NIFS in lotic waters at the site scale (30 NIFS recorded in the field samples; 10 alien and 20 translocated). NIFS introductions in Greece appear to be influenced by specific socio-historical periods, indicating a gradual increase since late 1970s. Despite this increase, our study provides evidence that only four alien species are currently widespread and common in the rivers and streams of Greece: Gambusia holbrooki, Carassius gibelio, Pseudorasbora parva, and Lepomis gibbosus (in order of recorded abundance). NIFS tend to be absent or distributed in very low numbers in upland streams and in smaller river basins. However, the issue of translocated fish species is shown to be a sorely neglected problem that is difficult to track. This review tests a readily transferable screening procedure, contributes to the application of the European Union Regulation on Invasive Alien Species; it suggests gaps and uncertainties, and proposes conservation and management actions.