An investigation into socio-economic impacts of invasive redbelly tilapia Coptodon zillii (Gervais, 1848): A case study from the Shadegan Wetland, Iran
Keywords:Biological invasions, Ecological impacts, Feeding habits, Shadegan International Wetland, Tilapia
The cichlid species, Coptodon zillii (Gervais, 1848) is one of the invasive tilapia species, but little is known about its ecological and socio-economic effects on freshwater ecosystems. This study aims to understand socio-economic impacts by considering the ecological roots of the invasion success of C. zillii in one of the internationally important wetlands, Shadegan Wetland in Khuzestan province, southwest of Iran. For this purpose, the impact of the species occurrence on the local fishing communities and the feeding habits of the fish, which may affect the ecosystem of the wetland, were studied from October 2015 to September 2016. The redbelly tilapia has been observed in large numbers in the daily catchment of fishermen and due to its low price, it has greatly decreased their income. Because of the herbivorous diet, redbelly tilapia might cause ecosystem changes that adversely affect the native species, especially the commercially important fish. The unwillingness of fishermen to catch this fish makes it hard to physically remove it and then to control the population growth. Thus, it is possible to reduce its population by using incentives and creating new uses for this species, such as fertilizer production, which for this study presents a new method in this regard.
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