Predicting Invasiveness of Species in Trade: Climate Match, Trophic Guild and Fecundity Influence Establishment and Impact of Non-Native Freshwater Fishes

Jennifer G. Howeth, Crysta A. Gantz, Paul L. Angermeier, Emmanuel A. Frimpong, Michael H. Hoff, Reuben P. Keller, Nicholas E. Mandrak, Michael Marchetti, Julian D. Olden, Christina M. Romagosa, David M. Lodge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review



Impacts of non-native species have motivated development of risk assessment tools for identifying introduced species likely to become invasive. Here, we develop trait-based models for the establishment and impact stages of freshwater fish invasion, and use them to screen non-native species common in international trade. We also determine which species in the aquarium, biological supply, live bait, live food and water garden trades are likely to become invasive. Results are compared to historical patterns of non-native fish establishment to assess the relative importance over time of pathways in causing invasions.


Laurentian Great Lakes region.


Trait-based classification trees for the establishment and impact stages of invasion were developed from data on freshwater fish species that established or failed to establish in the Great Lakes. Fishes in trade were determined from import data from Canadian and United States regulatory agencies, assigned to specific trades and screened through the developed models.


Climate match between a species’ native range and the Great Lakes region predicted establishment success with 75–81% accuracy. Trophic guild and fecundity predicted potential harmful impacts of established non-native fishes with 75–83% accuracy. Screening outcomes suggest the water garden trade poses the greatest risk of introducing new invasive species, followed by the live food and aquarium trades. Analysis of historical patterns of introduction pathways demonstrates the increasing importance of these trades relative to other pathways. Comparisons among trades reveal that model predictions parallel historical patterns; all fishes previously introduced from the water garden trade have established. The live bait, biological supply, aquarium and live food trades have also contributed established non-native fishes.

Main conclusions

Our models predict invasion risk of potential fish invaders to the Great Lakes region and could help managers prioritize efforts among species and pathways to minimize such risk. Similar approaches could be applied to other taxonomic groups and geographic regions.

Original languageAmerican English
JournalDiversity and Distributions
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016


  • Aquarium
  • biological invasions
  • classification tree
  • ecological impact
  • establishment success
  • exotic species
  • Laurentian Great Lakes
  • live food
  • risk assessment
  • water garden


  • Biodiversity
  • Biology

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