The freshwater populations of native fish species (Ns) have reached critical levels in many parts of the world due to combined habitat deterioration by human interventions and exotic fish species (Es) invasions. These alarming conditions require combined and well-designed interventions for restoring environmental quality and restricting Es invasion. The aim of the study is to propose a method to design spatially explicit priorities of intervention for the recovery of Ns populations in highly impacted freshwater systems by exotic multi-species invasion and water quality (WQ) degradation. WQ and Es are used as Ns descriptors, which require intervention. The method uses gradient analysis (ordination method of Canonical Correspondence Analysis) for assessing the weights of Ns descriptors’ effects, which are further used to develop weighted severity indices; the severity index of WQ (Swq) and Es invasion (Se), respectively. Swq and Se are further merged to one combined total severity index St. The proposed method provides a) a ranking of the sites, based on the values of St, which denotes the priority for combined intervention in space and can be visualized in maps, b) a ranking of the most important Ns descriptors for each site to perform site-specific interventions, and c) Es rankings based on their potential threat on Ns for species-specific interventions. WQ, Es and Ns data from 208 sampling sites located in the Emilia-Romagna Region (Northern Italy) were used as a case study for the presentation of the proposed method. The application of the method showed that the north and northwestern lowland areas of Emilia-Romagna region presented the higher priority for intervention since the Ns of these areas are the most impacted from combined Es invasions and WQ degradation. Specific Es belonging to cyprinids, which are mostly responsible for the decline of aquatic vegetation and the increase of water turbidity, and a top Es predator (Wels catfish) were mostly present in these areas. Additionally, the most important WQ stressors of Ns were found to be COD, BOD and temperature that are all connected to oxygen depletion. The aforementioned conditions in the areas described by high priority for intervention can be used as a basis for the development of specific Ns conservation practices targeting the containment of the most harmful Es, the restoration of aquatic vegetation and the improvement of oxygen conditions.

Proposing priorities of intervention for the recovery of native fish populations using hierarchical ranking of environmental and exotic species impact

Aschonitis, V. G.
Primo
;
Gavioli, A.
Secondo
;
Lanzoni, M.;Fano, E. A.;Castaldelli, G.
Ultimo
2018

Abstract

The freshwater populations of native fish species (Ns) have reached critical levels in many parts of the world due to combined habitat deterioration by human interventions and exotic fish species (Es) invasions. These alarming conditions require combined and well-designed interventions for restoring environmental quality and restricting Es invasion. The aim of the study is to propose a method to design spatially explicit priorities of intervention for the recovery of Ns populations in highly impacted freshwater systems by exotic multi-species invasion and water quality (WQ) degradation. WQ and Es are used as Ns descriptors, which require intervention. The method uses gradient analysis (ordination method of Canonical Correspondence Analysis) for assessing the weights of Ns descriptors’ effects, which are further used to develop weighted severity indices; the severity index of WQ (Swq) and Es invasion (Se), respectively. Swq and Se are further merged to one combined total severity index St. The proposed method provides a) a ranking of the sites, based on the values of St, which denotes the priority for combined intervention in space and can be visualized in maps, b) a ranking of the most important Ns descriptors for each site to perform site-specific interventions, and c) Es rankings based on their potential threat on Ns for species-specific interventions. WQ, Es and Ns data from 208 sampling sites located in the Emilia-Romagna Region (Northern Italy) were used as a case study for the presentation of the proposed method. The application of the method showed that the north and northwestern lowland areas of Emilia-Romagna region presented the higher priority for intervention since the Ns of these areas are the most impacted from combined Es invasions and WQ degradation. Specific Es belonging to cyprinids, which are mostly responsible for the decline of aquatic vegetation and the increase of water turbidity, and a top Es predator (Wels catfish) were mostly present in these areas. Additionally, the most important WQ stressors of Ns were found to be COD, BOD and temperature that are all connected to oxygen depletion. The aforementioned conditions in the areas described by high priority for intervention can be used as a basis for the development of specific Ns conservation practices targeting the containment of the most harmful Es, the restoration of aquatic vegetation and the improvement of oxygen conditions.
Aschonitis, V. G.; Gavioli, A.; Lanzoni, M.; Fano, E. A.; Feld, C.; Castaldelli, G.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11392/2381785
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