Florida Non-Native Fish Action Alliance

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The Florida Non-Native Fish Action Alliance brings together federal and state agencies, academic institutions, and non-governmental organizations to address the need for documenting and managing the non-native fishes introduced to the state's waters.

The Problem
 

Dozens of species of non-native fishes have been introduced into Florida's freshwaters, have established reproducing populations, and are spreading to new locations. Additionally, newly-introduced non-native species are regularly discovered. Maintaining current information on the geographic ranges of all non-native fishes is a daunting task, as many jurisdictions are involved at the state, federal, and municipal levels. There is a need to coordinate sampling, research and management across jurisdictional boundaries while also providing up-to-date geographic distribution information to publicly-accessible databases.
 

Our Program

arrow graphic, from this ... to this. Teamwork

                            From this . . .                           to this. Teamwork! 

In 2012, US Geological Survey (USGS) and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) fish biologists began working together informally to build the Florida Non-Native Fish Action Alliance. This group is comprised of many agencies, universities and non-governmental organizations. While our agencies’ missions may differ, we recognize the need to work together to tackle the enormous task of documenting and managing non-native fishes in Florida. Our objectives include:

  1. Sampling water bodies (such as ponds and canals) not normally sampled by biologists to document the non-native fish fauna. We look for:
    a)  Species that are new to the aquatic community.
    b)  Changes to species distributions (e.g., geographic spread, die-off, etc.).
     
  2. When unconfirmed reports are received of the introduction of a new non-native species:
    a)  The area is sampled in an attempt to confirm the new species introduction;
    b)  If the report of the introduction is confirmed, areas around the new introduction are sampled to determine if populations are established and/or spreading.
    c)  Attempt eradications if feasible.
     
  3. Provide up-to-date distribution information to natural resource managers, who are tasked with managing non-native species in their jurisdiction.
     
  4. Provide sighting information to the USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database (USGS NAS). USGS NAS is the national repository for distribution data for aquatic non-native species. It is publicly-accessible and includes distribution maps as well as biological and ecological information for each species.
     
  5. Provide specimens to the Florida Museum's fish collection, a modern, digitized resource for scientists studying natural history and specimen biology. The museum serves as a “library of fishes” where deposited specimens will be available for study by academics in perpetuity. Data on fishes housed in the collection is available publicly online.
     
  6. Provide specimens directly to academics and graduate students working on research projects.
     
  7. When eradications are deemed feasible, conduct research on new techniques to remove non-native fishes with minimal impact on native fauna.
     
  8. Our group coordinates with the Everglades Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area committee, keeping them apprised of our progress and taking under consideration their requests for specific tasks.
     

Results to Date

Our first effort was a small-scale survey in and around Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge in 2012. That year, croaking gourami (Trichopsis vittata) had recently been collected in the refuge even though it was thought to have died out decades ago. Several teams of fish biologists converged on the refuge to sample areas around the refuge in hopes of determining the spread of the gourami. While sampling for gourami, another non-native species was unexpectedly collected – Jack Dempsey (Rocio octofasciata). The discovery of these two species in areas that were not commonly sampled for fishes led us to consider additional work on a more extensive geographic scale. Thus, the idea for the Fish Slam was born.

Fish Slam events, wherein teams of fishery professionals converge for a day of sampling, are similar to a BioBlitz. Our program started with one, one-day Fish Slam event per year and, with the assistance of funding from USGS, it has expanded to multiple two-day events each year. Similarly, the list of participating agencies, universities, and other organizations has grown with each event. Between 2012 and 2019, we have held 11 Fish Slams, sampling over 200 locations throughout the State of Florida. Hundreds of specimens have been deposited at natural history museums around the country. Additionally, more than 600 records have been added to the USGS NAS database. 

To see specific results from each Fish Slam, click on the Related tab above.

For more information about this program, contact:

Pam Schofield, Ph.D.
Research Fishery Biologist
US Geological Survey
Wetland and Aquatic Research Center
Gainesville FL
352.264.3530
pschofield@usgs.gov
 

Acknowledgements

This work is funded by the USGS Invasive Species program and the USGS Wetland and Aquatic Research Center. We are grateful to the individual participants who take time out of their busy working or personal schedules to lend a hand, relying heavily on their assistance and expertise. To see the list of our partners, click on the Partners tab above.

 

Media photos

UF researcher Quenton Tuckett with a clown knifefish Chitala ornata

University of Florida researcher Quenton Tuckett with a clown knifefish Chitala ornata

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boat electroshocking crew with bullseye snakehead (Channa marulius)

Silvia Gutierre (U West FL), Kristen Reaver (USGS) and Bill Loftus (USGS) with a bullseye snakehead Channa marulius.

Grass Carp, Ctenopharyngodon idella

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWS) Biologist Kelly Gestring and National Park Service intern Sarah Stanton with a grass carp Ctenopharyngodon idella.

Fish Slam volunteer Rob Robins

Florida Museum collection manager and Fish Slam volunteer Rob Robins prepares specimens for the museum.

Fish Slam

Kelly Gestring (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission) displays a bullseye snakehead (left) and a clown knifefish (right) caught during the USGS Fish Slam event. ​​​​​​​

 

 

Fish Slam

USGS biologist Kristen Reaver displays a bullseye snakehead caught in South Florida during a USGS Fish Slam event. 

Tilapia, Oreochromis sp., collected in the Treasure Coast Fish Slam

Chris Anderson (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission - FWC) and Jon Moore (Florida Atlantic University) with a tilapia, Oreochromis sp., collected in the 2019 Treasure Coast Fish Slam.

Fish Slam

Fish Slam participants bring their non-native fishes captured during the event to the check-in meeting.