Florida Non-Native Fish Action Alliance

Science Center Objects

Dozens of species of non-native fishes are present in the freshwaters of Florida, and new species are discovered each year. 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.

The Problem
 

Dozens of species of non-native fishes are present in the freshwaters of Florida, and new species are discovered each year. 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 distribution 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, 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 2013. 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.

Since 2014, we have hosted several Fish Slam events, wherein teams of fishery professionals converge for a day of sampling, similar to a BioBlitz. Our program started with one, one-day Fish Slam event per year and, with the assistance of some seed funding from USGS, has expanded to two two-day events each year. Similarly, the list of participating agencies, universities and other organizations has grown with each event. 

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 in part by 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

 

Fish Slam 2016 group

Attendees of the 2016 Spring Fish Slam in Miami, FL.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Butterfly peacock cichlid (Cichla ocellaris)

UF graduate student Kaitie Lawson with a butterfly peacock cichlid Cichla ocellaris.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bay snook (Petenia splendida) red color variation

Bay snook Petenia splendida from Miami, FL. This is a species we are attempting to eradicate through Fish Slam participation. Our goal is to eradicate the species before it spreads throughout South Florida.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UF researcher Quenton Tuckett with a clown knifefish Chitala ornata

UF 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fish voucher specimens for the Florida Museum

Specimens on their way to the Florida Museum, Gainesville, FL.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grass Carp, Ctenopharyngodon idella

FWC biologist Kelly Gestring and NPS intern Sarah Stanton with a grass carp Ctenopharyngodon idella.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Electrofishing for non-native fishes in South Florida

FWC biologist Kelly Gestring and NPS intern Sarah Stanton electrofishing for non-native fishes in South Florida.