The effect of rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) invasions on native fish communities in the subtropical Blyde River, Mpumalanga province, South Africa
This study investigated the effects of rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) invasion on native fish communities in the upper Blyde River catchment. A fish survey was undertaken between September 2017 and October 2018 from 11 sites in the Blyde and Treur Rivers using electrofishing and fyke nets. Differences in species composition, relative abundance, and community structure among sites were tested using multivariate analysis. A total of ten fish species were captured. There were significant differences in composition and abundance between fish communities that could be attributed to O. mykiss invasion and variation in habitats. Populations of native species that historically occurred throughout the upper catchment, such as Enteromius treurensis, were greatly reduced and fragmented in the presence of O. mykiss. However, instream migration barriers such as waterfalls have prevented upstream migration of O. mykiss, and these invasion-free areas have remnant populations of native fishes that appear to be largely intact. This finding is consistent with other studies that have shown that introduced alien predatory fish can have a significant effect on fish communities and highlighted the need to prevent human-facilitated introductions in biodiversity sensitive areas, such as mountain headwater streams, that are inhabited by endemic and range-restricted minnows.