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Aquaculture Environment Interactions

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AEI 16:175-188 (2024)  -  DOI:

Invasion risk to the United States from Arapaima spp. hinges on climate suitability

Katherine Wyman-Grothem1,*, Leandro Castello2, Dayana Tamiris Brito dos Santos Catâneo3, Carolina Rodrigues da Costa Doria3, André L. B. Magalhães4, Jiří Patoka5,6, Donald Stewart7, Craig Watson8

1US Fish and Wildlife Service, Fish and Aquatic Conservation Program, Bloomington, Minnesota 55437, USA
2Department of Fish & Wildlife Conservation, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia 24061, USA
3Graduate Program in Biodiversity and Biotechnology - BIONORTE, Ichthyology and Fisheries Laboratory, Federal University of Rondônia, Porto Velho 76801-974, Brazil
4Graduate Program in Ecology of Tropical Biomes, Federal University of Ouro Preto, Ouro Preto, Minas Gerais 35.400-000, Brazil
5Department of Zoology and Fisheries, Faculty of Agrobiology, Food and Natural Resources, Czech University of Life Sciences Prague, 165 00 Prague - Suchdol, Czech Republic
6Department of Preschool & Primary Education, Faculty of Education, Jan Evangelista Purkyně University in Ústí nad Labem, Pasteurova 1, 400 96 Ústí nad Labem, Czech Republic
7Department of Environmental Biology, College of Environmental Science and Forestry, State University of New York, Syracuse, New York 13210, USA
8University of Florida/IFAS Tropical Aquaculture Laboratory, Ruskin, Florida 33570, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Fish in the South American genus Arapaima Müller, 1843 (hereafter referred to as arapaimas) have attracted interest for commercial aquaculture development thanks to their rapid growth rate and high market value. However, management agencies in the United States have expressed concerns about importing and culturing arapaimas due to records of non-native establishment in certain other countries where arapaimas were released or escaped from captivity. We used the Freshwater Fish Injurious Species Risk Assessment Model (FISRAM) to estimate the probability that arapaimas would be injurious (able to cause harm) to native ecosystems, humans, or the economy of the contiguous United States. Risk assessment model inputs were elicited from arapaima experts around the world. Model results were sensitive to the estimation of climate suitability for arapaimas within the contiguous United States, with predicted probability of injuriousness ranging from 0.784 down to 0.321 with different climate suitability inputs. Expert assessors predicted that competition and predation on native species would be the most likely mechanism of impact and expressed a high degree of uncertainty about potential for impacts from pathogens and parasites. We concluded that due to the cold sensitivity of these tropically adapted fish, establishment within the contiguous United States would be highly restricted geographically, limiting potential impacts if introduced outside climatically suitable areas. Existing regulations already mitigate risk of escape from aquaculture in areas where establishment is plausible, but further research into arapaima parasites and pathogens would help reduce uncertainties and suggest opportunities to enhance biosecurity measures if needed.

KEY WORDS: Arapaima · Pirarucu · Risk assessment · Climate matching · Invasive species · Fish · Freshwater · North America

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Cite this article as: Wyman-Grothem K, Castello L, Catâneo DTBS, Doria CRC and others (2024) Invasion risk to the United States from Arapaima spp. hinges on climate suitability. Aquacult Environ Interact 16:175-188.

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