The effectiveness of non-native fish removal techniques in freshwater ecosystems: a systematic review

Environmental Reviews
By: , and 



In aquatic systems, biological invasions can result in adverse ecological effects. Management techniques available for non-native fish removal programs (including eradication and population size control) vary widely, but include chemicals, harvest regimes, physical removal, or biological control. For management agencies, deciding on what non-native fish removal program to use has been challenging because there is little reliable information about the relative effectiveness of these measures in controlling or eradicating non-native fish. We conducted a systematic review, including a critical appraisal of study validity, to assess the effectiveness of different non-native fish removal methods, and to identify the factors that influence the overall success rate of each type of method. We found 95 relevant studies, generating 158 data sets. The evidence base was dominated by poorly documented studies with inadequate experimental designs (76% of removal projects). When the management goal was non-native fish eradication, chemical treatments were relatively successful (antimycin 75%; rotenone 89%) compared to other interventions. Electrofishing and passive removal measure studies indicated successful eradication was possible (58% each respectively) but required intensive effort and multiple treatments over a number of years. Of these studies with sufficient information, electrofishing had the highest success for population size control (56% of data sets). Overall, inadequate data quality and completeness severely limited our ability to make strong conclusions about the relationships between non-native fish abundance and different methods of eradication and population control, and the factors influencing the overall success rate of each method. Our review highlights that there is considerable scope for improving our evaluations of non-native fish removal methods. It is recommended that programs should have explicitly stated objectives, better data reporting, and study designs that (when possible and appropriate) incorporate replicated and controlled investigations with rigorous, long-term quantitative monitoring. Future research on the effectiveness of non-native fish removal methods should focus on: (1) the efficacy of existing or potentially new removal measures in larger, more complex environments; (2) a broader range of removal measures in general, and (3) phenotypic characteristics of individual fish within a population that fail to be eradicated or controlled.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title The effectiveness of non-native fish removal techniques in freshwater ecosystems: a systematic review
Series title Environmental Reviews
DOI 10.1139/er-2018-0049
Volume 27
Issue 1
Year Published 2019
Language English
Publisher NRC Research Press
Contributing office(s) Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center
Description 24 p.
First page 71
Last page 94