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Two new BioFresh publications: homogenisation of fish populations and the effect of bridges on mayflies

November 30, 2011

Invasive Asian carp jump in the Illinois River, USA Credit: Nerissa Michaels / Illinois River Biological Station

Two fascinating journal articles have been recently published by BioFresh partners.  The first, “Homogenization patterns of the world’s freshwater fish faunas” was co-authored by Thierry Oberdorff, a BioFresh scientist based at the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD) in France.  You can download the article here.

Cultural homogenisation – a McDonald’s and Starbucks in every global city – is a widely discussed (and often derided) topic.  However, similar processes of global hyperconnectivity in how people, food andother resources are shipped around the world are causing researchers to investigate the so-called biodiversity “Homogecene”.  The “Homogecene” is a term coined to describe how the rapid invasion of non-native species into new habitats around the world (a process we’ve covered before) has caused the extinction of many unique and locally specific populations of species, causing a “levelling out” or homogenisation of the patterns in which species are distributed around the world.  The article investigates the effect of the “Homogecene” on global freshwater fish populations, following previous work on freshwater invasions.

Positively, the authors suggest that this process of biodiversity homogenisation is not as pronounced for freshwater fish as for other taxa.  This is due to the way that many freshwater basins – including lakes, rivers and wetlands – are highly isolated from others, making invasions less common than on land.  To put it simply, it is more difficult (if not highly unlikely) for a fish to “invade” one river basin from another unassisted (although see this amazing entry into the Cabinet of Freshwater Curiosites), than it is for a species of bird to “invade” another terrestrial (land-based) habitat.  However, the authors note that in a number of highly altered river basins in the Nearctic (Northern America) and Palearctic (Europe, northern Africa and Asia), biological homogenisation is proving more severe.  As such, understanding freshwater ecosystem invasions and the resulting effects on the homogenisation of biodiversity is a key topic for future work.

(c) Colin Ebdon Prize winner National Insect Week 2008. National Insect Week 2012 runs 25 June - 1 July

A second paper by BioFresh scientist Szabolcs Lengyel at the University of Debrecen and colleagues called “Bridges as optical barriers and population disruptors for the mayfly Palingenia longicauda: An overlooked threat to freshwater biodiversity?” has already been covered on this blog (you can read a fascinating description of the paper by Szabi himself here). However, it has just received a full publication through the Journal of Insect Conservation.  You can download the paper for free here.  And if this piques your interest in mayflies, there’s a wealth of writing, audio, video and other resources on these amazing wee insects through the BioFresh “Mayfly Week” held in May 2011.

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