Using tournament angler data to rapidly assess the invasion status of alien sport fishes (Micropterus spp.) in Southern Africa
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Fishes are one of the most commonly introduced aquatic taxa worldwide, and invasive fish species pose threats to biodiversity and ecosystem function in recipient waters. Considerable research efforts have focused on predicting the invasibility of different fish taxa; however, accurate records detailing the establishment and spread of invasive fishes are lacking for large numbers of fish around the globe. In response to these data limitations, a low-cost method of cataloging and quantifying the temporal and spatial status of fish invasions was explored. Specifically, angler catch data derived from competitive bass angling tournaments was used to document the distribution of 66 non-native populations of black bass (Micropterus spp.) in southern Africa. Additionally, catch data from standardized tournament events were used to assess the abundance and growth of non-native bass populations in southern Africa relative to their native distribution (southern and eastern United States). Differences in metrics of catch per unit effort (average number of fish retained per angler per day), daily bag weights (the average weight of fish retained per angler), and average fish weight were assessed using catch data from 14,890 angler days of tournament fishing (11,045 days from South Africa and Zimbabwe; 3,845 days from the United States). No significant differences were found between catch rates, average daily bag weight, or the average fish weight between countries, suggesting that bass populations in southern Africa reach comparable sizes and numbers relative to waters in their native distribution. Given the minimal cost associated with data collection (i.e. records are collected by tournament organizers), the standardized nature of the events, and consistent bias (i.e. selection for the biggest fish in a population), the use of angler catch data represents a novel approach to infer the status and distribution of invasive sport fish.
- RESEARCH: Weyl, O