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INVASION DYNAMICS OF RED SHINER (CYPRINELLA LUTRENSIS) ACROSS SOUTHEASTERN U.S. WATERSHEDS
The goals of this research are to:
(1) determine how landscape characteristics relate to the spread of red shiner through southeastern river systems,
(2) identify behavioral and genetic mechanisms underlying interspecific hybridization, and
(3) develop models to assess the vulnerability of tributary streams to invasion by red shiner.
Biological invasions are one of the foremost threats to the integrity of aquatic ecosystems in the U.S., but little is known regarding the invasion dynamics of non-indigenous fishes in streams. Southeastern streams, renowned for their exceptional levels of fish endemism and diversity, also harbor the largest number of non-indigenous species (NIS) in the U.S. The Southeast is also among the most rapidly developing regions in the country, and while it is generally understood that disturbed habitats may act as dispersal corridors for NIS, it is remains unclear how anthropogenic landscape modifications affect interactions between NIS and indigenous species. We have recently begun research to study how urbanization and land-use in several Southeastern watersheds relates to the dispersal of an invasive minnow, the Red Shiner (Cyprinella lutrensis). Red shiners excel in the degraded habitats of urban and agricultural streams and readily hybridize with congenerics (21 of which occur in the Southeast). Ecological competition and genetic hybridization may lead to the extirpation of native Cyprinella species. Therefore continued dispersal of red shiners is expected to severely threaten the diversity and integrity of Southeastern rivers. By identifying key ecological and genetic variables that facilitate colonization and dispersal, this research will characterize red shiner invasions over time and space and assess the vulnerability of other Southeastern rivers to invasion.