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Fishes 2018, 3(2), 19; https://doi.org/10.3390/fishes3020019

Shifts in Eastern Mediterranean Fish Communities: Abundance Changes, Trait Overlap, and Possible Competition between Native and Non-Native Species

1
Department 1, Anhalt University of Applied Sciences, D-06406 Bernburg, Germany
2
School of Zoology, George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv 69978, Israel
3
National Institute of Oceanography, Tel-Shikmona, Haifa 31080, Israel
4
Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Beit-Dagan 50250, Israel
5
The Steinhardt Museum of Natural History, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv 69978, Israel
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 22 December 2017 / Revised: 8 April 2018 / Accepted: 13 April 2018 / Published: 20 April 2018
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Abstract

During the last few decades the fish community has changed substantially along the Eastern Mediterranean continental shelf, which is a hotspot of invasion by species that had migrated via the Suez Canal. Trawl data from the Israeli coast spanning two periods (1990–1994 and 2008–2011) were compared to identify species with substantial variation in their relative abundance between the two periods. The aim of this study was to examine if certain ecological traits characterize fish species showing an increase or decrease in relative abundance, and if non-indigenous fishes with strongly increasing populations may have caused the decline of native species with similar habitats and diets. We found that the main predictors of population trends were species length, habitat affinity, and maximum depth, with larger and soft bottom species displaying decreasing abundances. Comparing native and non-indigenous fishes with similar habitat and diet, we found a potential for competitive impact of the Indo-Pacific Plotosus lineatus and two Upeneus spp. on the native Mullus species. However, competition with non-indigenous fishes could not generally explain the dramatic decline of many other native species between the two study periods. Alternative causes, such as fishery pressure and increasing water temperature, are discussed. View Full-Text
Keywords: biological invasion; Lessepsian migration; ecological traits; community ecology biological invasion; Lessepsian migration; ecological traits; community ecology
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Arndt, E.; Givan, O.; Edelist, D.; Sonin, O.; Belmaker, J. Shifts in Eastern Mediterranean Fish Communities: Abundance Changes, Trait Overlap, and Possible Competition between Native and Non-Native Species. Fishes 2018, 3, 19.

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