Eastern gambusia (Gambusia holbrooki) is an alien fish present in all 23 river valleys in the Murray-Darling Basin (MDB), and in some locations is the most abundant fish species. Eastern gambusia is also a problem species elsewhere in Australia, as well as in other parts of the world, where there is a growing body of research being undertaken on this species. Despite being little, Eastern gambusia can have significant impacts on small and juvenile native fish species.
To learn more about Eastern gambusia a forum was convened by the MDBA to facilitate the sharing of current knowledge and experiences with this fish. The forum brought together presenters from USA, New Zealand and six states of Australia deliver papers to an audience of over 60 attendees. The 22 presentations covered topics including the biology and, impacts of Eastern gambusia, both in its native range in North America and as an introduced fish in New Zealand and Australia, on native fishes and amphibians. A number of practical control options were discussed including community engagement and participation in control exercises.
The forum identified a number of knowledge gaps relating to Gambusia with scientists reporting that though Eastern gambusia is an easy species to study, there is still much to learn of the biology and ecology. Others highlighted the need for greater clarity around legislative and managerial responsibilities. All groups were interested in control measures, and agreed that sharing of information via electronic media was critical with the creation of a central database of information a valuable tool to facilitate communication.
Implications for native fish
Eastern gambusia is now widespread in the MDB and has negative effects on many small and juvenile native fish species (and amphibians), including threatened species. An improved understanding of their biology and ecology, together with an understanding of the effects of control measures, may help reduce the numbers of this alien species at priority locations which will ultimately result in a reduction in the impact of this alien species on native fishes.
Alabaster, J. and Stott, B. 1978. Swimming activity of perch, Perca fluviatilis L. Journal of Fish Biology 12: 587-591.
Ansell, D. and Jackson, P. 2007. Emerging issues in Alien Fish Management in the Murray-Darling Basin: Statement, recommendations and supporting papers. Canberra, Murray-Darling Basin Commission.
Agtrans Research (2005). Review of progress on invasive species. Final report to the Department of Environment and Heritage, Brisbane, Queensland.
Alcaraz, et al 2008. Salinity mediates the competitive interactions between invasive mosquitofish and an endangered fish. Oecologia 155, 205-213.
Alcaraz, C. and García-Berthou, E. (2007). Life history variation of invasive mosquitofish (Gambusia holbrooki) along a salinity gradient. Biological Conservation 132, 83-92.
Arthington, A. H. (1991). Ecological and genetic impacts of introduced and translocated freshwater fishes in Australia. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 48, 33-43.
Arthington, A. H. and Lloyd L. N. (1989). Introduced Poeciliids in Australia and New Zealand. In Ecology and evolution of livebearing fishes (Poeciliidae). (Meffe, G. K. and Snelson, F. F. Jnr., Eds.), pp. 333-348, Prentice-Hall, Inc., New Jersey.
Arthington, A. H. and Marshall, C. J. (1999). Diet of the exotic mosquitofish, Gambusia holbrooki, in an Australian lake and potential for competition with indigenous fish species. Asian Fisheries Science 12, 1-16.
Becker, A., Laurenson, L. J. B., Jones, P. L. and Newman, D. M. (2005). Competitive interactions between the Australian native fish Galaxias maculatus and the exotic mosquitofish Gambusia holbrooki, in a series of laboratory experiments. Hydrobiologia 549, 187-196.
Breen, A. (2000). Density dependent interference competition between the exotic poeciliid Gambusia holbrooki (Girard, 1859) and the Australian native melanotaeniid Rhadinocentrus ornatus (Regan, 1914). Unpublished Honours thesis, Southern Cross University, Lismore.
Chapman, P. and Warburton, K. (2006). Postflood movements and population connectivity in gambusia. Ecology of Freshwater Fish 15, 357-365.
Conte, S. (2001). An investigation of density-dependant interference competition between the exotic poeciliid Gambusia holbrooki (Girard, 1859) and the Australian native fish Hypseleotris galii (Ogilby, 1903). Unpublished Honours thesis, Southern Cross University, Lismore.
Courtenay, W. R. J. and Meffe, G. K. (1989). Small fishes in strange places: a review of introduced poeciliids. In Ecology and evolution of livebearing fishes (Poeciliidae). (Meffe, G. K. and Snelson, F. F. Jnr., Eds.), pp. 319-332. Prentice-Hall, Inc., New Jersey.
Cronin, A. (2001). Aggressive interaction by the introduced poeciliid Gambusia holbrooki on two native freshwater species, the firetail gudgeon Hypseleotris galii and the Oxleyan pygmy perch Nannoperca oxleyana. Unpublished Honours thesis, Southern Cross University, Lismore.
Elkington, S. (2004). Eradication of Gambusia (Gambusia affinis) and koi carp (Cyprinus carpio) from the Nelson/Marlborough Conservancy. Department of Conservation Te Papa Atewhai, Nelson.
Freeman, R. (2007). Tamar Estuary, Gambusia Eradication. Internal Report, Inland Fisheries Service, Hobart.
García-Berthou, E. (1999). Food of introduced mosquitofish: ontogenetic diet shift and prey selection. Journal of Fish Biology 55, 135-147.
Gill, H. S., Hambleton, S. J. and Morgan, D. L. (1999). Is the mosquitofish, Gambusia holbrooki (Poeciliidae), a major threat to the native freshwater fishes of south-western Australia? In Proceedings of the 5th Indo-Pacific Fish Conference, 1997. (Seret, B. and Sire, J.-Y. Eds.), pp. 393-403. Societé Française d’Ichthyologie, Paris.
Goodsell, J. A. and Kats, L. B. (1999). Effect of introduced mosquitofish on Pacific treefrogs and the role of alternative prey. Conservation Biology 13, 921-924.
Hamer, A.J., Lane, S.L. and Mahony, M.J. (2002). The role of introduced mosquitofish (Gambusia holbrooki) in excluding the native green and golden bell frog (Litoria aurea) from original habitats in south-eastern Australia. Oecologia, 132:445-452.
Howe, E., Howe, C., R., L. and Burchett, M. (1997). Impact of the introduced poeciliid Gambusia holbrooki (Girard, 1859) on the growth and reproduction of Pseudomugil signifer (Kner, 1865) in Australia. Marine and Freshwater Research 48, 425-434.
Hurlbert, S. H., Zedler, J. and Fairbanks, D. (1972). Ecosystem alteration by Mosquitofish (Gambusia affinis) predation. Science 175, 639-641.
Karolak, S. (2006). Alien Fish in the Murray-Darling Basin. MDBC publication No. 03/06. Murray- Darling Basin Commission, Canberra.
Keane, J. P. and Neira, F. J. (2004). First record of mosquitofish, Gambusia holbrooki, in Tasmania, Australia: stock structure and reproductive biology. New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 38, 857-867.
Keller, K. and Brown, C. (2008). Behavioural interactions between the introduced plague minnow Gambusia holbrooki and the vulnerable native Australian ornate rainbowfish Rhadinocentrus ornatus, under experimental conditions. Journal of Fish Biology 73, 1714-1729.
Koehn, J.D. and MacKenzie, R.F. (2004). Priority management actions for alien freshwater fish species in Australia. New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater, 38, 457-472.
Komak, S. and Crossland, M. R. (2000). An assessment of the introduced mosquitofish (Gambusia affinis holbrooki) as a predator of eggs, hatchlings and tadpoles of native and non-native anurans. Wildlife Research 27, 185-189.
Koster, W. M. (1997). A study of the interactions between dwarf galaxias (Galaxiella pusilla), southern pygmy perch (Nannoperca australis) and eastern Gambusia (Gambusia holbrooki). B. Sc. Honours thesis, Deakin University, Clayton.
Laha, M. and Mattingly, H. T. (2007). Ex situ evaluation of impacts of invasive mosquitofish on the imperilled Barrens topminnow. Environmental Biology of Fishes 78, 1-11.
Pyke, G. H. (2005). A review of thP biology of Gambusia affinis and G. holbrooki. Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries 15, 339-365.
Pyke, G. H. (2008). Plague minnow or mosquito fish? A review of the biology and impacts of introduced Gambusia species. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 39, 171-191.
Rehage, J. S., Barnett, B. K. and Sih, A. (2005). Foraging behaviour and invasiveness: do invasive Gambusia exhibit higher feeding rates and broader diets than their non-invasive relatives? Ecology of Freshwater Fish 14, 352-360.
Rowe, D. K., Smith, J. P. and Baker, C. (2007). Agonistic interactions between Gambusia affinis and Galaxias maculatus: implications for whitebait fisheries in New Zealand rivers. Journal of Applied Ichthyology 23, 668–674.
Warburton, K. and Madden, C. (2003). Behavioural responses of two native Australian fish species (Melanotaenia duboulayi and Pseudomugil signifer) to introduced Poeciliids (Gambusia holbrooki and Xiphophorus helleri) in controlled conditions. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 124, 115-123.
Warburton, K., Retif, S. and Hume, D. (1998). Generalists as sequential specialists: diets and preyswitching in juvenile silver perch. Environmental Biology of Fishes 51, 445-454.
Webb, C. and Joss, J. (1997). Does predation by the fish Gambusia holbrooki (Atheriniformes: Poeciliidae) contribute to declining frog populations. Australian Zoologist 30, 316-324.
Latest posts by Finterest (see all)
- Operation Fish Rescue! - December 17, 2019
- Planting over 7,500 seedlings to feed fish at Tonbridge Creek - December 9, 2019
- Removal of Torrale Peebles Dam underway - December 9, 2019