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Homestead, FL, United States

Schofield P.J.,U.S. Geological Survey | Loftus W.F.,Aquatic Research and Communication LLC
Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries | Year: 2014

Non-native fishes have been known from freshwater ecosystems of Florida since the 1950s, and dozens of species have established self-sustaining populations. Nonetheless, no synthesis of data collected on those species in Florida has been published until now. We searched the literature for peer-reviewed publications reporting original data for 42 species of non-native fishes in Florida that are currently established, were established in the past, or are sustained by human intervention. Since the 1950s, the number of non-native fish species increased steadily at a rate of roughly six new species per decade. Studies documented (in decreasing abundance): geographic location/range expansion, life- and natural-history characteristics (e.g., diet, habitat use), ecophysiology, community composition, population structure, behaviour, aquatic-plant management, and fisheries/aquaculture. Although there is a great deal of taxonomic uncertainty and confusion associated with many taxa, very few studies focused on clarifying taxonomic ambiguities of non-native fishes in the State. Most studies were descriptive; only 15 % were manipulative. Risk assessments, population-control studies and evaluations of effects of non-native fishes were rare topics for research, although they are highly valued by natural-resource managers. Though some authors equated lack of data with lack of effects, research is needed to confirm or deny conclusions. Much more is known regarding the effects of lionfish (Pterois spp.) on native fauna, despite its much shorter establishment time. Natural-resource managers need biological and ecological information to make policy decisions regarding non-native fishes. Given the near-absence of empirical data on effects of Florida non-native fishes, and the lengthy time-frames usually needed to collect such information, we provide suggestions for data collection in a manner that may be useful in the evaluation and prediction of non-native fish effects. © 2014, Springer International Publishing Switzerland (outside the USA).

Kline J.L.,South Florida Natural Resources Center | Loftus W.F.,Aquatic Research and Communication LLC | Kotun K.,South Florida Natural Resources Center | Trexler J.C.,Florida International University | And 3 more authors.
Wetlands | Year: 2014

Non-native fishes present a management challenge to maintaining Everglades National Park (ENP) in a natural state. We summarized data from long-term fish monitoring studies in ENP and reviewed the timing of introductions relative to water-management changes. Beginning in the early 1950s, management actions have added canals, altered wetland habitats by flooding and drainage, and changed inflows into ENP, particularly in the Taylor Slough/C-111 basin and Rocky Glades. The first nonnative fishes likely entered ENP by the late 1960s, but species numbers increased sharply in the early 1980s when new water-management actions were implemented. After 1999, eight non-native species and three native species, all previously recorded outside of Park boundaries, were found for the first time in ENP. Several of these incursions occurred following structural and operational changes that redirected water deliveries to wetlands open to the eastern boundary canals. Once established, control non-native fishes in Everglades wetlands is difficult; therefore, preventing introductions is key to their management. Integrating actions that minimize the spread of non-native species into protected natural areas into the adaptive management process for planning, development, and operation of watermanagement features may help to achieve the full suite of objectives for Everglades restoration. © US Government 2013.

Rehage J.S.,Florida International University | Liston S.E.,Audubon Florida | Dunker K.J.,Alaska Department of Fish and Game | Loftus W.F.,Aquatic Research and Communication LLC
Wetlands | Year: 2014

Short-hydroperiod Everglades wetlands have been disproportionately affected by reductions in freshwater inflows, land conversion and biotic invasions. Severe hydroperiod reductions in these habitats, including the Rocky Glades, coupled with proximity to canals that act as sources of invasions, may limit their ability to support high levels of aquatic production. We examined whether karst solution holes function as dry-down refuges for fishes, providing a source of marsh colonists upon reflooding, by tracking fish abundance, nonnative composition, and survival in solution holes throughout the dry season. We paired field surveys with an in situ nonnative predation experiment that tested the effects of predation by the recent invader, African jewelfish (Hemichromis letourneuxi) on native fishes. Over the 3 years surveyed, a large number of the solution holes dried before the onset of the wet season, while those retaining water had low survivorship and were dominated by nonnatives. In the experiment, mortality of eastern mosquitofish (Gambusia holbrooki) in the presence of African jewelfish was greater than that associated with deteriorating water quality. Under current water management, findings suggest that solution holes are largely sinks for native fishes, given the high frequency of drydown, extensive period of fish residence, and predation by nonnative fishes. © Society of Wetland Scientists 2013.

Schofield P.J.,U.S. Geological Survey | Slone D.H.,U.S. Geological Survey | Gregoire D.R.,U.S. Geological Survey | Loftus W.F.,Aquatic Research and Communication LLC
Hydrobiologia | Year: 2014

In an 8-month mesocosm experiment, we examined how a simulated Everglades aquatic community of small native fishes, snails, and shrimp changed with the addition of either a native predator (dollar sunfish Lepomis marginatus) or a non-native predator (African jewelfish Hemichromis letourneuxi) compared to a no-predator control. Two snail species (Planorbella duryi, Physella cubensis) and the shrimp (Palaemonetes paludosus) displayed the strongest predator-treatment effects, with significantly lower biomasses in tanks with Hemichromis. One small native fish (Heterandria formosa) was significantly less abundant in Hemichromis tanks, but there were no significant treatment effects for Gambusia holbrooki, Jordanella floridae, or Pomacea paludosa (applesnail). Overall, there were few treatment differences between native predator and no-predator control tanks. The results suggest that the potential of Hemichromis to affect basal food-web species that link primary producers with higher-level consumers in the aquatic food web, with unknown consequences for Florida waters. © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht (outside the USA).

Porter-Whitaker A.E.,Nova Southeastern University | Rehage J.S.,Florida International University | Liston S.E.,Audubon of Florida | Loftus W.F.,Aquatic Research and Communication LLC
Ecology of Freshwater Fish | Year: 2012

Non-native predators may have negative impacts on native communities, and these effects may be dependent on interactions among multiple non-native predators. Sequential invasions by predators can enhance risk for native prey. Prey have a limited ability to respond to multiple threats since appropriate responses may conflict, and interactions with recent invaders may be novel. We examined predator-prey interactions among two non-native predators, a recent invader, the African jewelfish, and the longer-established Mayan cichlid, and a native Florida Everglades prey assemblage. Using field enclosures and laboratory aquaria, we compared predatory effects and antipredator responses across five prey taxa. Total predation rates were higher for Mayan cichlids, which also targeted more prey types. The cichlid invaders had similar microhabitat use, but varied in foraging styles, with African jewelfish being more active. The three prey species that experienced predation were those that overlapped in habitat use with predators. Flagfish were consumed by both predators, while riverine grass shrimp and bluefin killifish were eaten only by Mayan cichlids. In mixed predator treatments, we saw no evidence of emergent effects, since interactions between the two cichlid predators were low. Prey responded to predator threats by altering activity but not vertical distribution. Results suggest that prey vulnerability is affected by activity and habitat domain overlap with predators and may be lower to newly invading predators, perhaps due to novelty in the interaction. © 2012 John Wiley & Sons A/S.

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