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Keywords:

  • Bergmann’s rule;
  • communities;
  • ecosystem function;
  • freshwater ecosystems;
  • invasion;
  • invasive species;
  • latitudinal gradients;
  • macroecology;
  • null model;
  • species extinction

Ecology Letters (2010) 13: 421–431

Abstract

In this study, we test whether established non-native species induce functional changes in natural assemblages. We combined data on the body size of freshwater fish species and a worldwide data set of native and non-native fish species for 1058 river basins. We show that non-native fish species are significantly larger than their native counterparts and are a non-random subset of the worldwide set of fish species. We further show that the median body size of fish assemblages increases in the course of introductions. These changes are the opposite of those expected under several null models. Introductions shift body size patterns related to several abiotic factors (e.g. glacier coverage and temperature) in a way that modifies latitudinal patterns (i.e. Bergmann’s rule), especially in the southern hemisphere. Together, these results show that over just the last two centuries human beings have induced changes in the global biogeography of freshwater fish body size, which could affect ecosystem properties.