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Summary

To examine the role of humans in the non-native fish introductions, we measured the frequency of occurrence and density of non-native fishes in ponds (Epping Forest, Essex, England) that had been restored (drained of water and voided of fish or treated with rotenone) on a known date and into which no piscivorous or non-native fishes had subsequently been stocked intentionally. For each pond, the period of time since pond restoration, pond area, distance to nearest residential housing, distance to nearest footpath, distance to nearest water body or stream, and the proportion of pond vegetated were measured. The occurrence of both non-native and unexpected native fish species was non-random, and the number of ornamental varieties was found to increase as pond distance from the nearest road decreased. Variety richness of each of three categories of fish (non-native, goldfish Carassius auratus and native) was significantly correlated with at least two of the following variables: distance from nearest road, nearest footpath and nearest pond. The rate of non-native fish introductions (adjusted variety richness per year) could also be estimated from pond distance to the nearest road, being about 3.5 ornamental varieties introduced per year in ponds adjacent to roads, but the rate appears to be much greater in ponds that had recently (<1.5 years) undergone restoration. Implications for conservation and management, as well as the potential role of societal issues such as recreational activities, cultural and religious practices, are discussed.