MEPS 266:239-244 (2004)  -  doi:10.3354/meps266239

A hotspot of non-native marine fishes: evidence for the aquarium trade as an invasion pathway

Brice X. Semmens1,*, Eric R. Buhle1, Anne K. Salomon1, Christy V. Pattengill-Semmens2

1University of Washington, 24 Kincaid Hall, Department of Biology, Box 351800, Seattle, Washington 98195-1800, USA
2Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF), PO Box 246, Key Largo, Florida 33037, USA

ABSTRACT: Invasions of non-native species in marine ecosystems can be ecologically damaging and economically costly. Identifying Œhot-spots¹ of non-native species and their sources of introduction is necessary to maximize the effectiveness of invasion quarantine programs. We use a large spatially explicit marine fish database to show that there are a surprising number of non-native fishes on the reefs of southeast Florida, USA. Two likely sources explain the occurrence of non-native marine fishes in this region: introductions through ballast-water exchange, and introductions from aquaria. Data on international shipping patterns and marine fish imports were used to evaluate the culpability of these 2 vectors. Our results suggest that the introductions are the result of aquarium releases. Prevention of further releases and invasions will require education, outreach, and enforcement efforts directed at marine aquarists and the aquarium industry.

KEY WORDS: Non-indigenous species · Aquarium trade · Reef fish · Ballast water · Marine conservation · Reef Environmental Education Foundation · Invasion control

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