Spatial distribution of native fish species in tributaries is altered by the dispersal of non-native species from reservoirs.

Affiliation

Pfauserová N(1), Slavík O(2), Horký P(2), Turek J(3), Randák T(3).
Author information:
(1)Department of Zoology and Fisheries, Faculty of Agrobiology, Food and Natural Resources, Czech University of Life Sciences Prague, Czech Republic. Electronic address: [Email]
(2)Department of Zoology and Fisheries, Faculty of Agrobiology, Food and Natural Resources, Czech University of Life Sciences Prague, Czech Republic.
(3)Center of Aquaculture and Biodiversity of Hydrocenoses, Faculty of Fisheries and Protection of Waters, University of South Bohemia in České Budějovice, Czech Republic.

Abstract

Reservoirs are known to alter temperature and flow regimes, shift nutrient cycles, reduce downstream species diversity and enable a predominantly upstream spread of non-native species. However, information about the seasonal dynamics of the spread of non-natives from a reservoir to its tributaries and the further consequences regarding the spatial distribution of native species is rare. We observed the occurrence of fish in the Vltava River and its tributaries (Elbe catchment area, central Europe) upstream of the Lipno Reservoir for five consecutive years. We radio-tagged two non-native and four native species. To detect assemblage spatial variability, we sampled sites in the study area by electrofishing twice per year (spring and autumn). We expected seasonal trends in non-native species appearance in upstream reservoir tributaries and, conversely, low motivation of native fishes to descend to the reservoir. By analysing nearly 3000 individuals of 21 species from the longitudinal profile of the study area, we observed an effect of reservoir distance on the native species ratio in the upper Vltava catchment area, i.e., an increase in distance increased the native species proportion, and the opposite was observed for non-native species. Analyses of 3798 tracking positions of 193 tagged individuals showed massive spring dispersal of non-native species from the reservoir to the main tributary, the Vltava River, and their return to the reservoir for wintering. Their upstream movement positively correlated with an increase in flow rate. Native Salmo trutta showed a specific shift from the Vltava River to smaller streams during the summer, when the presence of non-native species in the Vltava River was most significant. These findings indicate that non-native species repeatedly spread from the reservoir to the upstream river stretch and its tributaries and potentially compete with native species for resources.