Humans have regularly been introducing exotic species into natural environments in order to provide for their nutritional necessities or meet less indispensable purposes such as horticulture, fishing or hunting. However, the particular environments are not always adapted for hosting new arrivals. Past introduction attempts, such as that of wild rabbit into Australia or brown fario trout into Southern hemisphere water courses, led to an awareness that these different species, qualified by scientists as none-native, have the power to upset an ecosystem. The 2002 Convention on Biodiversity recognized that the species introductions can cause regression of biological diversity, following destruction of natural habitats. Although it has long seemed likely that human activity plays a major role in such effects, no scientific study had yet yielded measurements of its involvement at planetary scale for a given group of species. An international research team comprising IRD, CNRS and University of Toulouse scientists recently published a study that gave the first real demonstration that human activity is the main driving factor behind the establishment of exotic fish species populations in river ecosystems. Examination of data on presence of around 10 000 freshwater fish in 1055 river basins covering both 80% immersed lands and 80% of globally recorded freshwater fish species allowed identification of seven species-invasion hot-spots: the Pacific coast of North America and Central America, Patagonia, southern and western Europe, South Africa and Madagascar, central Asia, the South of Australia and New Zealand (See Map). These regions are characterized by river basins where non-native species make up more than one quarter of the freshwater fish species recorded. Moreover, they are superimposed on biodiversity hot-spots which correspond to geographical zones a strong endemism rate and a very high total number of species.
The team also sought to determine the extent of
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Institut de Recherche Pour le Dveloppement