Characteristics of the introduced fish fauna of Israel

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Abstract

Fishes have been introduced worldwide with deleterious effects on various native ecosystems. To gain insight into this phenomenon in Israel, we studied the introduced ichthyofauna. There are 27 species of introduced fishes in the freshwater habitats of Israel, a large number for a nation this size. Ten of these species reproduce in the wild. Most of these fishes were introduced for aquaculture; some are constantly restocked. The proportion of restocked versus established species in Israel is high compared to other regions. New fish introductions continue in recent decades, unlike the global trend. In Israel these species are found in the Jordan Basin, Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee), and the coastal plain rivers. A few species are widespread, and most are found in Lake Kinneret. Harmful effects of introduced fishes have been suspected and in several cases demonstrated. We encourage further caution when new introductions are contemplated; in some regions eradication should be attempted.

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