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Keywords:

  • non-native species;
  • invasion;
  • fishes;
  • freshwater;
  • Chile;
  • Oncorhynchus mykiss;
  • Salmo trutta;
  • Aplochiton zebra

Abstract

Rainbow trout Oncorhynchus mykiss and brown trout Salmo trutta are the world's two most widespread exotic fishes, dominate the fish communities of most cold-temperate waters in the southern hemisphere and are implicated in the decline and extirpation of native fish species. Here, we provide the first direct comparison of the impacts of rainbow and brown trout on populations of a native fish by quantifying three components of exotic species impact: range, abundance and effect. We surveyed 54 small streams on the island of Chiloé in Chilean Patagonia and found that the rainbow trout has colonized significantly more streams and has a wider geographic range than brown trout. The two species had similar post-yearling abundances in allopatry and sympatry, and their abundances depended similarly on reach-level variation in the physical habitat. The species appeared to have dramatically different effects on native drift-feeding Aplochiton spp., which were virtually absent from streams invaded by brown trout but shared a broad sympatric range with rainbow trout. Within this range, the species' post-yearling abundances varied independently before and after controlling for variation in the physical habitat. In the north of the island, Aplochiton spp. inhabited streams uninvaded by exotic trouts. Our results provide a context for investigating the mechanisms responsible for apparent differences in rainbow and brown trout invasion biology and can help inform conservation strategies for native fishes in Chiloé and elsewhere.