Abstract

India, a megadiverse tropical country is grappling with the rising trend of aquatic invasions. Out of 532 introduced non-native fish, 16 species of freshwater aquaculture and aquarium were assessed invasive by using a risk assessment protocol, ‘Fish Invasiveness Screening Test’. Six major identified invasion pathways of the aquatic invasive species were inadvertent or deliberate releases, escapes, contaminants from hatcheries, river corridors, stowaways and unaided introductions. Invasion mechanism further elucidated the factors promoting successful invasion in freshwater ecosystems. For predictive future performance of invasive fish, the concrete and predictive values based on mean abundance by weight was calculated. Over 28.67% and 29.02 % persistent increased yield of the invasive Tilapia and Common Carp respectively was predicted in the Ganga river in the coming decades. Single species Tilapia invasion facilitated multiple species fish invasion, manifesting in invasion meltdown. The trophic changes due to fish invasion exhibited biotic homogenization with trophic downgrading. Aquatic invasive species were found highly competitive interacting with native species causing serious biodiversity loss, health hazards, and economic damage consequently affecting the ecosystem services. In spite of available regulatory approaches and guidelines to manage aquatic invasive species, fish invasion has been on the rise. This paper suggests modifications and stringent implementation of the existing regulatory mechanisms besides adopting linkages, cutting-edge research on invasion science and modern molecular containment tools for effective management.

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