Predicting the dispersal and invasiveness of non-native freshwater fishes

Victoria Dominguez Almela

PhD at BU looking at the impact of invasive fish species and predicting their dispersal with the final goal of developing appropriate environmental management measures. This project covers the study of the dispersal mechanisms of invasive species using individual based models (IBMs), GIS mapping and R-based analysis.

The results from my first chapter revealed the importance of modelling to improve our understanding on invasive species and it predicted the dispersal dynamics of a non-native fish species using a combination of IBM and approximate Bayesian computation (Dominguez Almela et al, 2020).

Following this study, I used IBMs to predict how invasive species can be optimally managed. Major extant knowledge gaps in trade-offs between management effort and invasion outcomes were overcome, demonstrating that eradication of invaders is possible, but requires substantial management efforts (unpublished Dominguez Almela et al).  A complementary study looking at the landscape context specifically is under work now.

A final aspect of my work includes an empirical study assessing the ‘dispersal-enhancing’ traits of bitterling (non-native freshwater fish) in their invasion range to quantify the importance of trait plasticity in driving natural rates of diffusion. Progress to date has included completion of swimming performance and functional response experiments for these fish.

Left image: Assessing swimming performance on fish by using flumes based at Cardiff University

Right image: Picture 2. Sampling fish on the Gt Ouse River with the Environment Agency