The faunal Ponto‑Caspianization of central and western European waterways

Ismael Soto*, Ross N. Cuthbert, Anthony Ricciardi, Danish A. Ahmed, Florian Altermatt, Ralf Schäfer, Gaït Archambaud-Suard, Núria Bonada, Miguel Cañedo-Argüelles, Zoltán Csabai, Thibault Datry, Jaimie T.A. Dick, Mathieu Floury, Marie Anne Eurie Forio, Maxence Forcellini, Jean-François Fruget, Peter L.M. Goethals, Peter Haase, Emma J. Hudgins, J Iwan JonesAntonín Kouba, Patrick Leitner, Marie-Hélène Lizée, Anthony Maire, John F. Murphy, Davis Ozolins, Jes Jessen Rasmussen, Astrid Schmidt-Kloiber, Agnija Skuja, Rachel Stubbington, Gea H. Van der Lee, Rudy Vannevel, Gábor Várbíró, Ralf C. M. Verdonschot, Peter Wiberg‑Larsen, Phillip J. Haubrock, Elizabeta Briski

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


As alien invasive species are a key driver of biodiversity loss, understanding patterns of rapidly changing global species compositions depends upon knowledge of invasive species population dynamics and trends at large scales. Within this context, the Ponto-Caspian region is among the most notable donor regions for aquatic invasive species in Europe. Using macroinvertebrate time series collected over 52 years (1968–2020) at 265 sites across 11 central and western European countries, we examined the occurrences, invasion rates, and abundances of freshwater Ponto-Caspian fauna. We examined whether: (i) successive Ponto-Caspian invasions follow a consistent pattern of composition pioneered by the same species, and (ii) Ponto-Caspian invasion accelerates subsequent invasion rates. In our dataset, Ponto-Caspian macroinvertebrates increased from two species in 1972 to 29 species in 2012. This trend was parallelled by a non-significant increasing trend in the abundances of Ponto-Caspian taxa. Trends in Ponto-Caspian invader richness increased significantly over time. We found a relatively uniform distribution of Ponto-Caspian macroinvertebrates across Europe without any relation to the distance to their native region. The Ponto-Caspian species that arrived first were often bivalves (46.5% of cases), particularly Dreissena polymorpha, followed secondarily by amphipods (83.8%; primarily Chelicorophium curvispinum and Dikerogammarus villosus). The time between consecutive invasions decreased significantly at our coarse regional scale, suggesting that previous alien establishments may facilitate invasions of subsequent taxa. Should alien species continue to translocate from the Ponto-Caspian region, our results suggest a high potential for their future invasion success highly connected central and western European waters. However, each species’ population may decline after an initial ‘boom’ phase or after the arrival of new invasive species, resulting in different alien species dominating over time.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBiological Invasions
Early online date19 Apr 2023
Publication statusEarly online date - 19 Apr 2023


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