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Movement patterns and habitat selection of invasive African sharptooth catfish



Wilbert T. Kadye, Department of Ichthyology and Fisheries Science, Rhodes University, PO Box 94, Grahamstown 6140, South Africa.



Information on the movement behaviour and habitat use by non-native invasive African catfish Clarias gariepinus is crucial in understanding and possibly mitigating its potential impacts. The aim of this study was to examine catfish movement and habitat selection within an invaded impoundment in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. Acoustic telemetry data for 10 tagged catfish were analyzed to identify spatial patterns in home ranges and seasonal changes in habitat associations. Long-distance movements were observed for most catfish from common central release point, whereas short-distance movements defined their home ranges and utilization distributions that were categorized as localized within single or multiple habitats. Habitat selection was non-random with most catfish utilizing the shallow river mouth and upper section of the reservoir that were dominated by a rocky substratum interspersed with submerged trees. These localities were likely to be preferred for spawning and/or feeding. Utilization of these habitats by catfish is likely to be associated with probable impact due to predation and interference competition for feeding and breeding grounds with other species. Although most catfish maintained their home ranges throughout the study, seasonal shifts in habitat use, which was reflected by the utilization of deep and silt-dominated habitats, were also observed for some catfish. Non-random habitat use and homing behaviour within single and multiple habitats by non-native sharptooth catfish suggests that its impact within the invaded habitats may be associated with particular habitats both at broad spatial and temporal scales. Protection of habitats from catfish invasion should be considered as a management option to conserve native biota.