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

Abstract

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.

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Notes

  1. As discussed for Retropinna retropinna above local Maori communities have been arguing for rights to harvest the flourishing populations of landlocked Retropinna retropinna, which has become established in the lake, as a replacement forage species for the lake’s trout populations, this right being asserted as a form of compensation for the loss of their traditional food supply, the lake-living juveniles of G. brevipinnis—Anon 1996.

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Acknowledgments

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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McDowall, R.M. Crying wolf, crying foul, or crying shame: alien salmonids and a biodiversity crisis in the southern cool-temperate galaxioid fishes?. Rev Fish Biol Fisheries 16, 233–422 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11160-006-9017-7

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Keywords

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