Non-native Species Research

Non-native Aquatic Species Ecology and Management

Increasingly, non-native aquatic species (e.g., amphibians, fish, invertebrates, and plants) are being introduced into Florida, the U.S., and other world regions. A few introduced aquatic species have become invasive, leading to ecological, economic, human health, and social costs while many introductions seem to have little effect. Further, some introductions provide benefits in the form of enhanced fisheries and ecosystem management. 

Unfortunately, relatively little is known about the biology and effects of most established nonindigenous aquatic species and predicting the outcome of future invasions is sometimes difficult. Florida is an ideal location to study the ecology of non-native species due to numerous introductions, particularly of freshwater fishes. 

In addition, non-native aquatic species are important to the economy of Florida, contributing to the aquaculture industry, recreational and commercial fisheries, and aquatic weed management.  For example, the economically valuable tropical ornamental aquaculture industry is based almost entirely on the production of non-native species. 

Researchers at the TAL work closely with the aquaculture industry, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the U.S. Geological Survey, and other agencies and institutions to develop data on the biology and effects of non-native aquatic species to assist in natural resource management. These data support our overarching program of risk assessment and management (i.e., risk analysis), including development and testing of risk assessment methods as well as the application of these tools to address non-native species management issues in Florida and the nation.

Top: Electrofishing a Florida canal for non-native fish; Middle: Non-native midas cichlid; Bottom: FISK Risk Assessment Toolbox