Species invasions threaten the antiquity of China's freshwater fish fauna

Authors: Liu, Chunlong; He, Dekui; Chen, Yifeng; Olden, Julian D.

AimHuman-mediated species introductions and extirpations have resulted in the homogenization of biotas over time. However, there remains considerable uncertainty in our understanding of homogenization process for megadiverse regions of the world. Here, we investigate the consequences of widespread species invasions and extirpations for the biogeography of China's unique freshwater fish fauna. LocationChina. MethodsBy assembling a comprehensive dataset for distribution of Chinese freshwater fishes, we quantify how non-native fish species, from both overseas introductions and domestic translocations, has led to taxonomic homogenization of fish faunas at watershed, basin, ecoregion and country scales. We explore how the observed patterns in homogenization vary geographically, and identify those species most responsible for the faunal changes. Lastly, we simulate how China's fish fauna may continue to homogenize according to different scenarios of anticipated species introductions and extirpations. ResultsWe demonstrate that species introductions and extirpations have homogenized freshwater fish faunas across China. Overall compositional similarity of watersheds increased by 7.0% (from a historical 14.9% to 21.9% in the present day; SOrensen index). Compositional similarity of 96 of 103 (93.2%) watersheds increased, with western basins exhibiting the highest magnitude. Translocated non-native species associated with aquaculture practices contributed the most to faunal homogenization when compared to alien species (7.3% and 0.4%, respectively). Furthermore, faunal homogenization is predicted to intensify an additional 0.5-4.2% with increasing numbers of new non-native species introductions and the extirpation of native species. Main conclusionsSpecies introductions and extirpations have resulted in the significant impoverishment, and thus the loss of antiquity, of China's freshwater fish fauna over the past century. In the light of the growing realization that species composition (not richness) defines the role that biodiversity plays in maintaining ecosystem function, our study highlights the need for conservation strategies in China that consider changing patterns of diversity.

Volume: 23
Issue: 11
Pages: 556 - 566
Published Online: 2016
Full Text Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ddi.12541