Enhanced interspecific territoriality and the invasion success of the spotted tilapia (Tilapia mariae) in South Florida

Abstract

South Florida’s freshwaters are amongst the most invaded in the world with 34 naturalized fish species. How these non-natives affect the local native fish populations, however, is largely unknown. Native sunfish of the genus Lepomis are important as predators in structuring fish and invertebrate assemblages in the swamps and seasonal wet prairies of the Big Cypress Swamp and Florida Everglades. The spotted tilapia, Tilapia mariae, is a successful West African invader that exhibits territorial and spawning behavior that closely matches that of native Lepomis sunfishes. We tested the hypothesis that Lepomis sunfishes and T. mariae would compete when space was limiting. Additionally, we predicted that T. mariae, because of their aggressiveness, would be more successful in acquiring space. We collected juveniles of both groups from Big Cypress National Preserve, Everglades National Park, and the South Florida Water Management District canal system for laboratory trials in which likely competitive interactions were staged and observed. T. mariae were bolder and more aggressive than Lepomis sunfishes. T. mariae residents resisted all intruders whereas 30% of Lepomis sunfish residents were ejected. We surmise that these enhanced behaviors of T. mariae are an important component of their success in South Florida. The continued spread of T. mariae populations throughout South Florida into natural habitats suggests an increasing potential to affect the quality of spawning habitat available for Lepomis sunfishes and warrants a renewed focus on T. mariae as a non-native species of special concern.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5

References

  1. Annett CA, Pierotti R, Bayliss JR (1999) Male and female parental roles in the monogamous cichlid, Tilapia mariae, introduced in Florida. Environ Biol Fish 54:283–293

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Chick JH, Ruetz CRIII, Trexler JC (2004) Spatial scale and abundance patterns of large fish communities in freshwater marshes of the Florida Everglades. Wetl 24(3):652–664

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Chimney MJ, Jordan F (2008) The fish assemblage of a constructed treatment wetland in South Florida. Fla Sci 71(3):246–264

    Google Scholar 

  4. Courtenay WR Jr (1997) Nonindigenous fishes. In: Simberloff D et al (eds) Strangers in paradise. Island Press, Washington, D.C

    Google Scholar 

  5. Courtenay WR Jr, Hensley DA (1979) Range expansion in southern Florida of the introduced spotted tilapia, with comments on its environmental impress. Environ Conserv 6(2):149–151

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Courtenay WR Jr, Robins CR (1975) Exotic organisms: an unsolved, complex problem. Bioscience 25(5):306–313

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Fuller PL, Nico LG, Williams JD (1999) Nonindigenous fishes introduced into inland waters of the United States. American Fisheries Society Special Publication 27. Bethesda, MD

  8. Gido KB, Brown JH (1999) Invasion of North American drainages by alien fish species. Freshw Biol 42:387–399

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Hogg RG (1974) Environmental hazards posed by exotic fish species newly established in Florida. Environ Conserv 1(1):176

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Holway DA, Suarez AV (1999) Animal behavior: an essential component of invasion biology. TREE 14:328–330

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  11. Ikomi RB, Jessa HO (2003) Studies on aspects of the biology of Tilapia mariae (Boulenger, 1899) (Osteichthyes Cichlidae) in Ethiope River, Niger Delta, Nigeria. Afr Zool 38(2):255–264

    Google Scholar 

  12. Johnsson JI, Carlsson M, Sundstrom LF (2000) Habitat preference increases territorial defence in brown trout (Salmo trutta). Behav Ecol Sociobiol 48:373–377

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. King RP, Etim L (2004) Reproduction, growth, mortality and yield of Tilapia mariae Boulenger 1899 (Cichlidae) in a Nigerian rainforest wetland stream. J Appl Ichthyol 20:502–510

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Kushlan JA (1986) Exotic fishes of the Everglades: a reconsideration of proven impact. Environ Conserv 13(1):67–69

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Lawlor LR, Smith JM (1976) The coevolution and stability of competing species. Am Nat 110(971):79–99

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Lockwood J, Hoopes MF, Marchetti MP (2007) Invasion ecology. Blackwell Publishing, Malden, MA

    Google Scholar 

  17. Loftus WF, Kushlan JA (1987) Freshwater fishes of southern Florida. Bull Fla St Mus Biol Sci 31(4):147–344

    Google Scholar 

  18. Marchetti MP, Light T, Moyle PB, Viers JH (2004) Fish invasions in California watersheds: testing hypotheses using landscape patterns. Ecol Appl 14(5):1507–1525

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Mooney HA, Cleland EE (2001) The evolutionary impact of invasive species. PNAS 98(10):5446–5451

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  20. Moyle PB, Light T (1996) Biological invasions of fresh water: empirical rules and assembly theory. Biol Conserv 78:149–161

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Moyle PB, Marchetti MP (2006) Predicting invasion success: freshwater fishes in California as a model. Bioscience 56(6):515–524

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Petren K, Case TJ (1998) Habitat structure determines competition intensity and invasion success in gecko lizards. PNAS 95:11739–11744

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  23. Pimm SL, Rosenzweig ML (1981) Competitors and habitat use. Oikos 37(1):1–6

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Shafland PL (1976) The continuing problem of non-native fishes in Florida. Fish 1(6):25

    Google Scholar 

  25. Shafland PL (1996a) Exotic fishes of Florida–1994. Rev Fish Sci 4(2):101–122

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Shafland PL (1996b) Exotic fish assessments: an alternative view. Rev Fish Sci 4(2):123–132

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Shafland PL (1999) The introduced butterfly peacock (Cichla ocellaris) in Florida. I. Fish community analyses. Rev Fish Sci 7(2):71–94

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Shafland PL, Gestring KB, Stanford MS (2008) Florida’s exotic freshwater fishes–2007. Fla Sci 71(3):220–245

    Google Scholar 

  29. Simberloff D, Parker IM, Windle PN (2005) Introduced species policy, management, and future research needs. FREE 3(1):12–20

    Google Scholar 

  30. Taylor JN, Courtenay WR Jr, McCann JA (1984) Known impacts of exotic fishes in the Continental United States. In: Courtenay WR Jr, Stauffer JR Jr (eds) Distribution, biology, and management of exotic fishes. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD

    Google Scholar 

  31. Trexler JC, Loftus WF, Jordan F, Lorenz JJ, Chick JH, Kobza RM (2000) Empirical assessment of fish introductions in a subtropical wetland: an evaluation of contrasting views. Biol Invasions 2:265–277

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

We are deeply grateful to D. Howe, A. Brooks, L. Grubbs, L. Brooks, D. Mellor, R. Burrows, C. Kennedy, and B. Purcell for their time and efforts in support of this research. Permits for this research were acquired from the South Florida Water Management District, Big Cypress National Preserve, and Everglades National Park. All laboratory research was conducted under IACUC #04-037. Funding for this work was provided through the Rutgers University Faculty Research Council. Additionally, we would like to thank H. MacIsaac and three anonymous reviewers for their suggestions that facilitated the improvement of this manuscript.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Wesley R. Brooks.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Brooks, W.R., Jordan, R.C. Enhanced interspecific territoriality and the invasion success of the spotted tilapia (Tilapia mariae) in South Florida. Biol Invasions 12, 865–874 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10530-009-9507-3

Download citation

Keywords

  • Big cypress swamp
  • Competitive interactions
  • Fish invasions
  • Florida Everglades
  • Interspecific competition
  • Lepomis sunfish
  • South Florida
  • Spotted tilapia
  • Territorial behavior