Nile Tilapia Oreochromis niloticus (Linnaeus, 1758) Establishment in Temperate Mississippi, USA: Multi-Year Survival Confirmed by Otolith Ages

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Coastal Sciences, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory


Tolerance and adaptability to changing environmental parameters have made Nile tilapia Oreochromis niloticus (Linnaeus, 1758) a hardy and desirable aquaculture species. These traits have also enabled this fish to become a highly successful invasive species into temperate and subtropical aquatic environments. Otolith-based ages of Nile tilapia (41.3 - 400.0 mm TL, 1.34 - 1,293 g WW, n = 259) collected from a power plant cooling reservoir and the Pascagoula River proper indicated that feral populations overwintered reaching ages up to 4+ years old in coastal Mississippi, USA; these data confirm their establishment. A survey of mean daily winter (December - February) water temperatures from 2004 - 2010 in this region showed minimum lethal temperatures of < 10 degrees C to occur nearly 11% of the time attesting to the adaptability of the Nile tilapia as an invasive species. One annulus (opaque zone) per year was being deposited from April to August based on marginal increment analysis along with sulcal groove length-age estimation of the young-of-the-year Nile tilapia. Additionally, life history metrics measured for this temperate population of Nile tilapia were nearly identical to those reported from African environments, indicating they are flourishing in this non-native habitat.

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Aquatic Invasions





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