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Predicting the habitat expansion of the invasive roach Rutilus rutilus (Actinopterygii, Cyprinidae), in Great Britain


The roach is influential ecologically and has a preference for water temperatures >12°C. In this study, we attempted to predict its habitat expansion in response to global warming, hypothesing its increase in Great Britain. Historical data for air temperature over different time scales (annual, seasonal, monthly and daily) and for the presence of roach in Great Britain were used to create four Ecological Niche Models. Mean seasonal air temperature (EncRoach-S) was the best predictor. Using EncRoach-S, two future climate scenarios were tested: a sensitivity test (i.e. incrementally increasing temperature values by 1°C), and using air temperature data from UKCIP 11-member ensemble of climate change projections for 2031–2040, 2061–2070 and 2091–2100. Both approaches predicted an increase in habitat suitability in Great Britain with rising air temperatures but the extent of change differed for England, Wales and Scotland. In England, the rate of expansion was initially slow but rapidly increased mid-century leading to 88% coverage by the century end. In Wales, there was a greater increase by the century end and a similar trend in Scotland. This study supports the conjecture that a rise in air temperature over the next few decades will lead to an increase in potential roach habitat.

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The authors would like to thank Christel Prudhomme (Centre for Ecology & Hydrology) for making available the UKCIP climate projections data and for her guidance in the use of the data. Also, to all the contributors and collators of the UK Database for the Atlas of Freshwater Fishes and also to the Biological Records Centre at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology for making it available online via the National Biodiversity Network’s Gateway ( The work was supported by NERC Grant NE/H000208/1. Finally, we thank the two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments.

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Correspondence to J. Alex Elliott.

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Elliott, J.A., Henrys, P., Tanguy, M. et al. Predicting the habitat expansion of the invasive roach Rutilus rutilus (Actinopterygii, Cyprinidae), in Great Britain. Hydrobiologia 751, 127–134 (2015).

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  • Habitat model
  • Climate change
  • Temperature
  • EncRoach
  • Ecological niche model