Biological Invasions

, Volume 18, Issue 2, pp 427–444 | Cite as

The distribution of an invasive fish species is highly affected by the presence of native fish species: evidence based on species distribution modelling

  • Pieterjan VerhelstEmail author
  • Pieter Boets
  • Gerlinde Van Thuyne
  • Hugo Verreycken
  • Peter L. M. Goethals
  • Ans M. Mouton
Original Paper


Topmouth gudgeon (Pseudorasbora parva) is one of the most invasive aquatic fish species in Europe and causes adverse effects to ecosystem structure and functioning. Knowledge and understanding of the species’ interactions with the environment and with native fish are important to stop and prevent the further spread of the species. Creating species distribution models is a useful technique to determine which factors influence the occurrence and abundance of a species. We applied three different modelling techniques: general additive models, random forests and fuzzy habitat suitability modelling (FHSM) to assess the habitat suitability of topmouth gudgeon. The former two techniques indicated that the abundance of native fish (i.e. biotic variables) was more important than environmental variables when determining the abundance of topmouth gudgeon in Flanders (Belgium). Bitterling (Rhodeus amarus), stone loach (Barbatula barbatula), three-spined stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) and predator abundance were selected as the most important biotic variables and implemented in the FHSM to investigate species interactions. Depending on the preferred food source and spawning behaviour, either coexistence or interspecific competition can occur with bitterling, stone loach and three-spined stickleback. In contrast, the presence of predators clearly had a top down effect on topmouth gudgeon abundance. These findings could be applied as a biological control measure and implemented in conservation strategies in order to reduce the abundance of earlier established populations of topmouth gudgeon.


Topmouth gudgeon Non-native Belgium Biotic resistance Species distribution modelling Invasive fish species 



Pieterjan Verhelst is a recipient of a Ph.D. Grant financed by the Agency for Innovation by Science and Technology in Flanders (IWT) and is affiliated with Ghent University and the Research Institute for Nature and Forest (INBO). Pieter Boets was supported by a postdoctoral fellowship from the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO-Vlaanderen). This work was supported by the Interreg IIa Two Seas project RINSE. The author would like to thank the fishing team of INBO Groenendaal and Tom De Boeck for data extraction.

Supplementary material

10530_2015_1016_MOESM1_ESM.docx (20 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 19 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory of Environmental Toxicology and Aquatic EcologyGhent UniversityGhentBelgium
  2. 2.Research Group Marine BiologyGhent UniversityGhentBelgium
  3. 3.Research Institute for Nature and Forest (INBO)HoeilaartBelgium
  4. 4.Research Institute for Nature and Forest (INBO)BrusselsBelgium
  5. 5.Provincial Centre of Environmental ResearchGhentBelgium

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