June 18th, 2010
|Carp (Cyprinus carpia).
Carp (Cyprinus carpio) could invade England and Wales by 2050 under climate change, with damaging ecological consequences.
Altogether, six potentially invasive fish species – a quarter of the exotic fish fauna in England and Wales – are likely to substantially benefit from global warming over the next 40 years, according to modelling conducted by Rob Britton and colleagues.
Some of the 24 non-native fish species in England and Wales persist through stocking but have failed to establish, some have established populations without becoming invasive and some have become invasive.
Because there are biogeographic barriers to the movement of most native fish species in response to climate change, the researchers propose that it is important to “identify the effect of warming temperatures on non-native species that have already been introduced and then survived in waterbodies in a region, but whose establishment and invasion is currently thermally constrained”.
Two of the fish likely to benefit from warming – carp and European catfish (Silurus glanis) – are stocked for angling and their distribution is currently increasing significantly, including in open systems.
If carp, which is the major species in a catch-and-release recreational angling industry worth £3 billion a year, becomes established under warming, the impacts are likely to be “serious” and result in the destruction of habitat, loss of macrophytes and higher water turbidity.
The impacts of European catfish are less certain.
Britton JR, Cucherousset J, Davies GD, Godard MJ and Copp GH. 2010. Non-native fishes and climate change: predicting species responses to warming temperatures in a temperate region. Freshwater Biology 55(5): 1130-1141.