Homogenization Dynamics and Introduction Routes of Invasive Freshwater Fish in the Iberian Peninsula

Nonnative invasive species are one of the main global threats to biodiversity. The understanding of the traits characterizing successful invaders and invasion-prone ecosystems is increasing, but our predictive ability is still limited. Quantitative information on biotic homogenization and particularly its temporal dynamics is even scarcer. We used freshwater fish distribution data in the Iberian Peninsula in four periods (before human intervention, 1991, 1995, and 2001) to assess the temporal dynamics of biotic homogenization among river basins. The percentage of introduced species among fish faunas has increased in recent times (from 41.8% in 1991 to 52.5% in 2001), leading to a clear increase in the similarity of community composition among basins. The mean Jaccard's index increase (a measure of biotic homogenization) from the pristine situation to the present (17.1%) was similar to that for Californian fish but higher than for other studies. However, biotic homogenization was found to be a temporally dynamic process, with finer temporal grain analyses detecting transient stages of biotic differentiation. Introduced species assemblages were spatially structured along a latitudinal gradient in the Iberian Peninsula, with species related to sport fishing being characteristic of northern basins. Although the comparison of fish distributions in the Iberian Peninsula and France showed significant and generalized biotic homogenization, nonnative assemblages of northeastern Iberian basins were more similar to those of France than to those of the rest of the Iberian Peninsula, indicating a main introduction route. Species introduced to the Iberian Peninsula tended to be mainly piscivores or widely introduced species that previously had been introduced to France. Our results indicate that the simultaneous analysis of the spatial distribution of introduced assemblages (excluding native species that reflect other biogeographical patterns) and their specific traits can be an effective tool to detect introduction and invasion routes and to predict future invaders from donor regions ​
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