Freshwater aquatic organisms in North America are disproportionately imperilled when compared to their terrestrial counterparts due to widespread habitat alteration, pollution, overexploitation and the introduction of alien species. In this review, we examine the threat factors contributing to the endangerment of freshwater fishes and molluscs in Canada and further examine the nature of alien invasive species introductions affecting aquatic species at risk. Habitat loss and degradation is the predominant threat factor for Canadian freshwater fishes and molluscs that are listed as Extinct, Extirpated, Endangered
and Threatened. Alien invasive species are the second most prevalent threat for fishes, affecting 26 of 41 listed species. Alien invasive species are a threat in most parts of Canada where listed fishes are found. Most (65%) of the alien invasive species affecting listed fishes are the result of intentional introductions related to sport fishing, and the majority of these introductions are unauthorized. Fifteen fishes and two plant species are cited as alien invasive species that impact listed fishes with brown bullhead (Ameiurus nebulosus) and pumpkinseed (Lepomis gibbosus) being the most prevalent. Alien species are a threat to 6 of 11 listed mollusc species. All six species are threatened by the alien zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha) in the Great Lakes basin.
alien invasive species Canada COSEWIC fishes at risk molluscs at risk species at risk vectors of introduction threats