Voracious invader or benign feline? A review of the environmental biology of European catfish silurus glanis in its native and introduced ranges

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A popular species for food and sport, the European catfish (Silurus glanis) is well-studied in its native range, but little studied in its introduced range. Silurus glanis is the largest-bodied freshwater fish of Europe and is historically known to take a wide range of food items including human remains. As a result of its piscivorous diet, S. glanis is assumed to be an invasive fish species presenting a risk to native species and ecosystems. To assess the potential risks of S. glanis introductions, published and 'grey' literature on the species' environmental biology (but not aquaculture) was extensively reviewed. Silurus glanis appears well adapted to, and sufficiently robust for, translocation and introduction outside its native range. A nest-guarding species, S. glanis is long-lived, rather sedentary and produces relatively fewer eggs per body mass than many fish species. It appears to establish relatively easily, although more so in warmer (i.e. Mediterranean) than in northern countries (e.g. Belgium, UK). Telemetry data suggest that dispersal is linked to flooding/spates and human translation of the species. Potential impacts in its introduced European range include disease transmission, hybridization (in Greece with native endemic Aristotle's catfish [Silurus aristotelis]), predation on native species and possibly the modification of food web structure in some regions. However, S. glanis has also been reported (France, Spain, Turkmenistan) to prey intensively on other non-native species and in its native Germany to be a poor biomanipulation tool for top-down predation of zooplanktivorous fishes. As such, S. glanis is unlikely to exert trophic pressure on native fishes except in circumstances where other human impacts are already in force. In summary, virtually all aspects of the environmental biology of introduced S. glanis require further study to determine the potential risks of its introduction to novel environment ​
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