Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries

, Volume 12, Issue 4, pp 373-391

Alien invasions in aquatic ecosystems: Toward an understanding of brook trout invasions and potential impacts on inland cutthroat trout in western North America

  • Jason B. DunhamAffiliated withU.S.D.A. Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station
  • , Susan B. AdamsAffiliated withU.S.D.A. Forest Service, Southern Research Station
  • , Robert E. SchroeterAffiliated withDepartment of Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology, University of California, Davis
  • , Douglas C. NovingerAffiliated withMissouri Department of Conservation, Conservation Research Center

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Experience from case studies of biologicalinvasions in aquatic ecosystems has motivated aset of proposed empirical “rules” forunderstanding patterns of invasion and impactson native species. Further evidence is neededto better understand these patterns, andperhaps contribute to a useful predictivetheory of invasions. We reviewed the case ofbrook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis)invasions in the western United States andtheir impacts on native cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarki). Unlike many biologicalinvasions, a considerable body of empiricalresearch on brook trout and cutthroat trout isavailable. We reviewed life histories of eachspecies, brook trout invasions, their impactson cutthroat trout, and patterns and causes ofsegregation between brook trout and cutthroattrout. We considered four stages of theinvasion process: transport, establishment,spread, and impacts to native species. Most ofthe research we found focused on impacts. Interspecific interactions, especiallycompetition, were commonly investigated andcited as impacts of brook trout. In many casesit is not clear if brook trout invasions have ameasurable impact. Studies of speciesdistributions in the field and a variety ofexperiments suggest invasion success of brooktrout is associated with environmental factors,including temperature, landscape structure,habitat size, stream flow, and humaninfluences. Research on earlier stages ofbrook trout invasions (transport,establishment, and spread) is relativelylimited, but has provided promising insights. Management alternatives for controllingbrook trout invasions are limited, and actions tocontrol brook trout focus on direct removal,which is variably successful and can haveadverse effects on native species. Themanagement applicability of research has beenconfounded by the complexity of the problem andby a focus on understanding processes atsmaller scales, but not on predicting patternsat larger scales. In the short-term, animproved predictive understanding of brooktrout invasions could prove to be most useful,even if processes are incompletely understood. A stronger connection between research andmanagement is needed to identify more effectivealternatives for controlling brook troutinvasions and for identifying managementpriorities.

biological invasions brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarki) nonnative species