Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries

, Volume 16, Issue 3–4, pp 233–422 | Cite as

Crying wolf, crying foul, or crying shame: alien salmonids and a biodiversity crisis in the southern cool-temperate galaxioid fishes?

  • R. M. McDowallEmail author
Original Paper


The galaxioid fishes are the dominant, most speciose group of freshwater fishes (with >50 species) in the lands of the cool southern hemisphere, with representatives in western and eastern Australia, Tasmania, New Caledonia, Lord Howe Island, New Zealand, the Chatham, Auckland and Campbell Islands, Patagonian South America (Chile, Argentina), the Falkland Islands and South Africa. The group is most diverse in Australia and New Zealand. Lepidogalaxiidae is found only in Australia, Retropinnidae in Australia and New Zealand, and Galaxiidae across the entire range of the group. Many species are in serious conservation crisis for a diversity of reasons, including habitat deterioration and possibly fisheries exploitation, but there is enduring and pervasive information that shows that the group has been seriously impacted by the acclimatisation of salmonid fishes originating in the cool-temperate northern hemisphere, particularly brown and rainbow trout. With few exceptions, where these trout have been introduced there has been major decline in the galaxioids, especially Galaxiidae, as a result of a complexly interacting series of adverse impacts from these introduced fishes. In some places, centrarchids and cichlids may also have adverse impacts. In addition, there appear to have been adverse impacts from the translocation of galaxioids into communities where they do not naturally occur. In many instances it appears that displacement of the galaxioids has led to a situation where galaxioids and salmonids no longer co-occur, owing either to displacement or predation, leading to fish communities in which there is no explicit evidence for displacement. These effects are resulting in the galaxioid fishes being amongst the most seriously threatened fishes known.


Galaxiidae Retropinnidae Salmonidae Introductions Environmental impacts Australia New Zealand New Caledonia Patagonia Chile Argentina Falkland Islands South Africa 



I acknowledge support from the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research in writing this review; Dave Kelly reviewed the manuscript and Greg Kelly drafted many of the figures.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Institute of Water and Atmospheric ResearchChristchurchNew Zealand

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