Original Paper

Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp 41-57

First online:

Reservoirs promote the taxonomic homogenization of fish communities within river basins

  • Miguel ClaveroAffiliated withGrup d’Ecologia del Paisatge, Àrea de Biodiversitat, Centre Tecnològic Forestal de CatalunyaDepartament de Ciències Ambientals, Universitat de Girona Email author 
  • , Virgilio HermosoAffiliated withDepartamento de Biología Ambiental y Salud Pública, Universidad de HuelvaThe Ecology Centre, School of Biological Sciences, University of Queensland

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Most studies analyzing patterns in biotic homogenization of fish communities have used large-scale approaches, while the community-level effects of species introductions and local extinctions within river basins have been sparsely analyzed. In this article, we examine patterns in freshwater fish α- and β-diversity in relation to the presence of reservoirs in a Mediterranean river (Guadiana river; Iberian Peninsula). We used fish samples from 182 river localities and 59 reservoir ones to address two main questions: (i) do reservoirs favor the establishment of invasive fish species?; and (ii) do reservoirs bear taxonomically homogenized fish communities? Although total species richness was not different between rivers and reservoirs, the latter had more invasive species and less native ones. Fish species found in reservoirs tended to be larger ones, but invasive species of any size showed higher preferences for reservoirs. Native species that were rare or absent in reservoirs were those that showed higher sensitivity to invasive species in rivers. Reservoir fish communities were taxonomically homogenized in relation to river ones, both when considering all fish species and using only natives or only invasive ones. Our results suggest that invasive species occupying reservoirs constitute an ecological filter excluding most native species from such systems. Invasive species in the study area are often widely introduced elsewhere, while native species found in reservoirs are congeneric and ecologically similar to those found in other Iberian studies. Thus, we conclude that reservoirs promote taxonomic homogenization at multiple spatial scales, while could also be promoting the functional homogenization of Iberian fish communities.


Biotic homogenization β-diversity Freshwater fish Fish conservation Mediterranean rivers Invasive species Regulated rivers