Invertebrates associated with aquatic plants bought from aquarium stores in Canada and New Zealand

Abstract

Invertebrate species carried incidentally (i.e., ‘hitchhikers’) in the aquarium trade have gained increasing attention in recent years, but factors affecting the movement of species from stores to homes are poorly understood. We aimed to determine how macrophytes bought from stores act as vectors for transport of non-indigenous invertebrate species. We tested whether incidental invertebrate faunas carried on macrophytes vary internationally by comparing the New Zealand and Canadian trades, and if macrophyte species with different morphologies carry different risks. We recorded a large variety of invertebrate species associated with Vallisneria spp., Sword plants (Echinodorus spp.) and Elodea canadensis bought from stores, including species non-indigenous to both countries. Community composition of incidental fauna differed significantly between New Zealand (primarily domestically cultivated) and Canadian (primarily imported) bought macrophytes. Differences in composition between different macrophyte species were only statistically significant between wild-collected E. canadensis and the cultured species in New Zealand. Behaviours observed in stores, such as the amount of time macrophytes were removed from water before being placed in plastic bags for transport, did not affect the abundances or richness of incidental invertebrates transported, and thus did not appear to be effective in reducing invasion risk. We therefore recommend chemical treatment for removal of invertebrates from macrophytes at or pre-border, and from tanks containing plants at culture facilities and in stores. Such management will reduce the probability of introduction of hitchhikers to home aquaria, from which risk of release to natural waters is greatest.

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Acknowledgements

We thank Jiri Patoka and an anonymous reviewer for providing comments that improved our manuscript. HJM was supported by an NSERC Discovery Grant and Canada Research Chair.

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Correspondence to Ian C. Duggan.

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Duggan, I.C., Champion, P.D. & MacIsaac, H.J. Invertebrates associated with aquatic plants bought from aquarium stores in Canada and New Zealand. Biol Invasions 20, 3167–3178 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10530-018-1766-4

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Keywords

  • Incidental fauna
  • Hitchhikers
  • Biological invasions
  • Ornamental plants
  • Aquarium trade
  • Copepoda