Biological Invasions

, Volume 19, Issue 8, pp 2261–2276 | Cite as

Reconstructing the introduction history of an invasive fish predator in South Africa

  • John S. Hargrove
  • Olaf L. F. Weyl
  • James D. Austin
Original Paper


The Largemouth Bass (Micropterus salmoides) is a global invader with demonstrated ecological impacts on native fish communities. Introductions of fishes in freshwater ecosystems are often characterized as complex processes, yet an understanding of the nature of the introduction can inform management and conservation actions. Early in the twentieth century, two introductions of Largemouth Bass were made into South Africa for the establishment of a recreational fishery, and subsequent translocations have expanded their distribution to include much of southern Africa. In this study we quantified neutral genetic variation, modeled potential introduction scenarios, and identified potential source regions from within the native range. We documented limited levels of genetic diversity in nuclear microsatellite genotypes across populations (mean allelic richness = 1.80 and mean observed heterozygosity = 0.16) and observed low levels of genetic differentiation among four of the five focal populations (mean pairwise fixation index = 0.09), with a fifth population displaying greater levels of genetic divergence (mean pairwise fixation index = 0.27). A total of three cytochrome b haplotypes were recovered from South Africa samples and the single most common haplotype (93% of individuals) was identical to a haplotype from a population of Largemouth Bass in Maryland, USA. Using limited available stocking data along with outputs from Principal Component Analysis and approximate Bayesian evaluation of competing introduction scenarios we confirm the presence of multiple introductions. Despite evidence for multiple introductions, Largemouth Bass in South African water bodies harbor extremely low neutral genetic diversity, suggesting that even a very limited number of propagules can experience a high likelihood of success in invading nonnative waters.


Invasion reconstruction Microsatellite Freshwater fish Centrarchidae DIYABC 



Funding for this research was provided by the National Research Foundation of South Africa National Research Foundation of South Africa (NRF, UID: 77444) and the Department of Science and Technology/NRF Centre of Excellence for Invasion Biology (CIB). Micheal Allen and three anonymous reviewers provided helpful comments that greatly improved the quality of this manuscript. A.N. Carr is thanked for assistance in generating maps. M.Fedler and C.R. Carneiro are thanked for their help with lab work. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources was incredibly helpful in tracking down key references regarding bass propagation and distributions in Maryland. Financial assistance for JSH was provided by the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida (UF), the UF Center for African Studies, the Jeanne and Hunt Davis Graduate Research Award, and the UF International Center Research Abroad for Graduate Students Program.

Supplementary material

10530_2017_1437_MOESM1_ESM.docx (17 kb)
Supplemental Table 1 Details of microsatellite primers and multiplex PCR conditions used to generate genotype profiles for Largemouth Bass (Micropterus salmoides) sampled from South Africa. The quantities of Qiagen mastermix (7.5 µL) and DNA (1 µL @ 20 ng/µL) were identical for all multiplex reactions with varying amounts of water added to create a total reaction volume equal to 15 µL (DOCX 18 kb)
10530_2017_1437_MOESM2_ESM.docx (21 kb)
Supplemental Table 2 List of cytochrome b gene sequences from Largemouth Bass (Micropterus salmoides) and Florida Bass (Micropterus floridanus) used to explore relationships among introduced (South African) and native populations (DOCX 22 kb)
10530_2017_1437_MOESM3_ESM.docx (24 kb)
Supplemental Table 3 Summary statistics for nine microsatellite loci (and their associated GenBank accession numbers) used to characterize the levels of genetic diversity in invasive populations of Largemouth Bass (Micropterus salmoides) collected from five South African water bodies (DOCX 24 kb)
10530_2017_1437_MOESM4_ESM.docx (19 kb)
Supplemental Table 4 Frequency of alleles for all loci used to examine the genetic characteristics of invasive Largemouth Bass (Micropterus salmoides) in South Africa (DOCX 19 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Wildlife Ecology and ConservationUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA
  2. 2.South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB)GrahamstownSouth Africa
  3. 3.Center for Invasion BiologySAIABGrahamstownSouth Africa
  4. 4.Program in Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, School of Forest Resources and ConservationUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA

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