Biological Invasions

, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 59–66

Behavioral constraints for the spread of the eastern mosquitofish, Gambusia holbrooki (Poeciliidae)

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10530-007-9109-x

Cite this article as:
Alemadi, S.D. & Jenkins, D.G. Biol Invasions (2008) 10: 59. doi:10.1007/s10530-007-9109-x


Eastern mosquitofish (Gambusia holbrooki) are native to the southeastern United States but notoriously invasive elsewhere, and are aggressive predators in ecosystems they inhabit. Information on dispersal behavior is needed to better understand mosquitofish spread upon introduction and potential means to mitigate that spread. We experimentally tested the effects of shallow water depths (3–24 mm) and obstacles (leaf litter) on mosquitofish dispersal behavior, plus a range of conditions relevant to field situations. Mosquitofish dispersed significantly faster in deeper water (p < 0.001) but some dispersed in only 3 mm water depth (i.e., one-half average body depth). Wetland and upland leaf litter at natural densities strongly interfered with mosquitofish dispersal behavior. Based on our results, introduced mosquitofish spread rapidly given unimpeded dispersal corridors (e.g., mowed ditches), and may do so at rates >800 m/day. Also, consistent lack of sexual dimorphism in dispersal behavior indicates that mosquitofish spread is not strongly dependent on female poeciliid reproductive biology. Our results support designation of mosquitofish as highly invasive and suggest that barriers to mosquitofish spread must obstruct dispersal pathways as shallow as 3 mm depth.


InvasiveDispersalHabitatSexWater depthLeaf litter

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of Central FloridaOrlandoUSA