DOI: 10.3390/fishes9010013 ISSN: 2410-3888

Adaptation of the European Fish Index (EFI+) to Include the Alien Fish Pressure

Enric Aparicio, Carles Alcaraz, Rafel Rocaspana, Quim Pou-Rovira, Emili García-Berthou
  • Ecology
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

The European Fish Index EFI+ is the only fish-based multimetric index for the assessment of the ecological status of running waters that is validated and thus applicable across most countries of the European Union. Metrics of the index rely on several attributes of the species present in the fish assemblage, irrespective of their native/alien status. The abundance of alien fish, together with other anthropogenic impacts, is one of the most important threats to the conservation of native fish and ecosystem health and is also an indicator of degraded stream conditions. Therefore, to improve the performance of the EFI+ in regions with high incidence of alien species, the EFI+ was adapted to include alien fish pressure as a new metric that reflects the number of alien species as well as the proportional abundance of alien individuals. The application of the adapted index (A-EFI+) is illustrated with data from several Iberian Mediterranean basins and showed similar or stronger correlations than the original EFI+ with anthropogenic pressure (land-use variables and alterations in hydrology and river morphology) and with other regional fish indices. EFI+ has been invaluable to intercalibrate fish indices across Europe, and A-EFI+ is similar but explicitly includes alien pressure, thus helping to provide a more comprehensive assessment of ecosystem health and to communicate it to society.

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