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Research Group on Ecology of Inland Waters (GRECO)

Biological invasions in continental waters: introduction routes and vectors, life cycles and biological impacts

Line of research

Permanent researchers: Emili García-Berthou, Ramon Moreno-Amich, Anna Vila-Gispert, Lluís Zamora

Biotic homogenisation through the introduction of exotic species and the extinction of native species currently represents one of the main threats for the biodiversity and the functioning of the ecosystems. The prediction of future invading species and vulnerable ecosystems is of vital importance from a scientific and practical point of view.

GRECO has extensive experience in the study of invading fish, from the study of introduction routes and vectors to understanding the differential features of invading species, the adaptation of the life cycles of invading species and the different conditions and impact that the introduced species has on native ones.

For example, we have studied the distinctive life features of the invading species through a comparison of biological attributes, phylogenetics and the human use of successfully established invading species and native species of a specific biogeographical region (for example, Catalonia or the Iberian Peninsula).

Establishing the profile of the ecological attributes of the invading species of a specific region represents a very valuable instrument for developing conservation and management strategies for the ecosystems of continental waters.

We have also studied how the eastern mosquito fish (Gambusia holbrooki), the pumpkinseed (Lepomis gibbosus) or the wels catfish (Silurus glanis) adapt their life cycle (growth, reproduction, etc.), their feeding and their morphology to different environmental conditions. We have also studied the impact of the mosquito fish for endemic species in danger of extinction, such as the Spanish toothcarp (Aphanius iberus).

These studies should help avoid the introduction and the expansion of new exotic species and mitigate their impact, thus contributing to conservation and to a more economic management of continental ecosystems.

Publicacions representatives:

Alcaraz C., Vila-Gispert A. & García-Berthou E. 2005. Profiling invasive fish species: the importante of phylogeny and human use. Diversity and Distributions 11: 289-298.

Benito J., Benejam L., Zamora L. & García-Berthou E. 2015. Diel cycle and effects of water flow on activity and use of depth by Common Carp. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 144: 491–501.

Carmona-Catot G., Benito J. & García-Berthou E. 2011. Comparing latitudinal and upstream-downstream gradients: life-history traits of invasive mosquitofish. Diversity and Distributions 17: 214–224.

Naspleda J., A. Vila-Gispert, M.G. Fox, L. Zamora & A. Ruiz-Navarro. 2012. Morphological variation between non-native lake-and stream-dwelling pumpkinseed in the Iberian Peninsula. Journal of Fish Biology 81: 1915-35.

Yavno S., M.G. Fox, A. Vila-Gispert & Y. Bhagat. 2013. Morphological differences between native and non-native pumpkinseed in traits associated with locomotion. Environmental Biology of Fishes 96: 507-518.

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