Visibility from Roads Predict the Distribution of Invasive Fishes in Agricultural Ponds

Lucy Towers
08 September 2014, at 1:00am

Invasive alien species are widely acknowledged as a major threat to the biodiversity of native species. Controlling species invasion is a priority for conservation of native assemblages, write Toshikazu Kizuka et al, Center for Environmental Biology and Ecosystem Studies, National Institute for Environmental Studies, Japan.

Propagule pressure and habitat characteristics are important factors used to predict the distribution of invasive alien species. For species exhibiting strong propagule pressure because of human-mediated introduction of species, indicators of introduction potential must represent the behavioral characteristics of humans.

This study examined 64 agricultural ponds to assess the visibility of ponds from surrounding roads and its value as a surrogate of propagule pressure to explain the presence and absence of two invasive fish species.

A three-dimensional viewshed analysis using a geographic information system quantified the visual exposure of respective ponds to humans.

Binary classification trees were developed as a function of their visibility from roads, as well as five environmental factors: river density, connectivity with upstream dam reservoirs, pond area, chlorophyll a concentration, and pond drainage.

Traditional indicators of human-mediated introduction (road density and proportion of urban land-use area) were alternatively included for comparison instead of visual exposure.

The presence of Bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus) was predicted by the ponds' higher visibility from roads and pond connection with upstream dam reservoirs. Results suggest that fish stocking into ponds and their dispersal from upstream sources facilitated species establishment.

Largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) distribution was constrained by chlorophyll a concentration, suggesting their lower adaptability to various environments than that of Bluegill.

Based on misclassifications from classification trees for Bluegill, pond visual exposure to roads showed greater predictive capability than traditional indicators of human-mediated introduction.

Pond visibility is an effective predictor of invasive species distribution. Its wider use might improve management and mitigate further invasion. The visual exposure of recipient ecosystems to humans is important for many invasive species that spread with frequent instances of human-mediated introduction.

Further Reading

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September 2014