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Scaning chemical pollution as an ecological impact of non-native fish introductions: an experimental approach


"The proposed MC Fellowship will look for the first time into the concept of pheromone pollution within biological invasions, as we strongly suspect this is facilitating the establishment of introduced fish species in novel ecosystems from the results of preliminary experiments. In the same way that introduced species can disrupt native species genetics through hybridisation, they can also disrupt highly-evolved reproductive behaviours through a complex exchange of pheromones signals in chemical complexes of similar character. Species-specific modifications to separate similar pheromone systems, and prevent a generic response, have not previously been required due to geographical isolation, whereas today these species are increasing living in sympatry in European freshwaters. Correspondingly, a dominant individual of an invasive fish that uses chemical signals to modify behaviours among subordinates could, when introduced, also affect the individual behaviours of native species. This has been discovered in the most invasive fish in Europe, topmouth gudgeon Pseudorasbora parva, which has a sexual pheromone complex that causes the total inhibition of spawning in two small-bodied, nest-guarding cyprinids from continental Europe (sunbleak Leucaspius delinateus; IUCN Red List of Threatened Species) and North America (fathead minnow Pimephales promelas). Therefore, the overall aim of the project is to examine the concept of pheromone pollution as a facilitator of the establishment and invasion of P. parva in novel ecosystems. This will be completed through experimental studies of reproductive pheromone interactions between P. parva, and both L. delineatus and P. promelas, and so has high significance for the conservation of European fish diversity. The project will then provide fundamental information for guiding the formulation and implementation of EU policy and management decisions on the invasive species that are impacting most on the biodiversity of Member States."

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Fern Barrow Bournemouth University
BH12 5BB Poole
United Kingdom

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Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Administrative Contact
Julie Cheshire (Prof.)
EU contribution
€ 271 636,80