Species-specific impact of introduced largemouth bass Micropterus salmoides in the Groot Marico Freshwater Ecosystem Priority Area, South Africa.
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Largemouth bass Micropterus salmoides are among the world’s 100 worst invaders and negatively affect aquatic biodiversity in many regions worldwide. In South Africa there is a paucity of empirical studies describing their impacts. The impact of M. salmoides on the fish community in the Groot Marico River catchment, an otherwise near-pristine river ecosystem and a freshwater ecosystem priority area, was assessed from surveys conducted in 2012. Fish presence and abundance were enumerated using multiple survey techniques, and their association with key habitat variables and the presence or absence of M. salmoides were assessed. A total of 14 native fish species were recorded, besides introduced M. salmoides, which occupied the majority of the mainstem and several tributaries downstream of barriers to upstream movement. Canonical correspondence analysis showed that only one native species, the Marico barb Barbus motebensis, had a negative spatial association with M. salmoides. Assessment of relative distributions showed this species to be excluded from M. salmoides-invaded river reaches, whereas the other native species were not visibly affected by the invader. This species-specificity of the impact of M. salmoides indicates that their impacts in South African streams may be dependent on predator-naiveté of prey.
- RESEARCH: Weyl, O