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What do we really know about the impacts of one of the 100 worst invaders in Europe? A reality check

Abstract

Invasive species are one of the greatest threats to biodiversity worldwide, and to successfully manage their introductions is a major challenge for society. Knowledge on the impacts of an invasive species is essential for motivating decision makers and optimally allocating management resources. We use a prominent invasive fish species, the round goby (Neogobius melanostomus) to objectively quantify the state of scientific knowledge on its impacts. Focusing on how native fish species are affected by round goby invasions, we analyzed 113 peer-reviewed papers and found that impacts are highly ecosystem and time scale dependent. We discovered round goby impacts to be profound, but surprisingly complex. Even if identical native species were affected, the impacts remained less comparable across ecosystems than expected. Acknowledging the breadth but also limitations in scientific knowledge on round goby impacts would greatly improve scientists’ ability to conduct further research and inform management measures.

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Acknowledgments

The authors thank Catherine Cornaz for her help with the literature review and two anonymous reviewers for helpful comments on an earlier version of this manuscript. This project was funded by a special grant from the Federal Office for the Environment, Switzerland, the Research Centre for Sustainable Energy and Water Supply (FoNEW), the canton BS, plus cantonal lottery funds of AG, BL, SO.

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Correspondence to Philipp E. Hirsch or Anouk N’Guyen.

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Philipp E. Hirsch and Anouk N’Guyen shared first authorship.

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Hirsch, P.E., N’Guyen, A., Adrian-Kalchhauser, I. et al. What do we really know about the impacts of one of the 100 worst invaders in Europe? A reality check. Ambio 45, 267–279 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13280-015-0718-9

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Keywords

  • Invasive species impact
  • Management
  • Prevention
  • Round goby
  • Neogobius melanostomus