The venomous striped eel catfish Plotosus lineatus was first recorded in the Mediterranean in 2002. Within 1-3 years, it has spread throughout the entire Israeli coast. We have studied its spatiotemporal distribution patterns via trawl surveys in order to determine the scale and extent of this invasion. Findings indicate that a population explosion has occurred, and the catfish now inhabits all sandy and muddy substrates up to ca 80 m. P. lineatus was found to recruit in autumn in the Mediterranean and displays similar or improved growth patterns and condition factor compared to those found in its native habitat. We discuss the possible ecological mechanisms responsible for its success: Benthic invaders are among its main prey items, suggesting an invasional meltdown process. We also point to the decline of indigenous species using its trophic and behavioral-ecological niche and hypothesize that they might be outcompeted and displaced by the catfish.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Acknowledgments The research was partially funded by a grant from the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to E Spanier and the Rieger Foundation Fellowship to D Edelist. We also wish to thank Mr. R Siman-Tov for the power plant Wlter survey data, as well as Mr. P Salameh and Ms. R Dvir for their invaluable assistance in gut content analysis.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Aquatic Science