Establishment and range expansion of non-native fish species facilitated by hot springs: the case study from the Upper Sakarya Basin (NW, Turkey)

Sadi Aksu, Sercan Başkurt, Özgür Emiroğlu, Ali Serhan Tarkan

Paper category: Original research paper
Corresponding author: Sadi Aksu (
DOI: 10.2478/oandhs-2021-0031
Received: 01/03/2021
Accepted: 26/03/2021
Full text: here

Citation: Aksu,S.,Başkurt,S.,Emiroğlu,Ö. & Tarkan,A.(2021).Establishment and range expansion of non-native fish species facilitated by hot springs: the case study from the Upper Sakarya Basin (NW, Turkey). Oceanological and Hydrobiological Studies,50(3) 247-258.


Non-native species can enter new habitats and ecosystems in a variety of ways. Suitable ecological conditions must exist for non-native species to reproduce in newly colonized habitats. Hot springs are suitable habitats for tropical, aquarium, and ornamental fish species. This paper presents the results of research on the distribution of non-native and native species in relation to environmental factors in the Upper Sakarya Basin, where several such springs are present. The fish fauna in the basin includes native (60% – 21 species, 14 of which are endemic) and non-native (40% – 14 species) fish species. Most of the non-native species (seven species) were found only in warm springs (minimum water temperature 16°C). In addition, 75 fish species belonging to 26 families were found throughout the Sakarya Basin. Hot springs were found to play an important role in the establishment of non-native species. The Kernel Density Estimation (KDE) results revealed that the non-native species density was high in the Upper Sakarya Basin where hot springs are common. This confirms that minimum and maximum temperatures are the main drivers of changes in the distribution of non-native fish species. Two aquarium fishes, Bujurguina vittata and Xiphophorus spp., are reported for the first time in the present study for inland waters of Turkey.


Our results clearly indicate that hot water resources could be suitable habitats, especially for tropical aquarium fish species once introduced into the wild. This is also relevant to sensitive areas (i.e. biodiversity hotspots in temperate climates) in light of projected climate change due to global warming. An increase in water temperature would cause a reduction in the amount of dissolved oxygen, which is considered a limiting factor for natural species but a contributing factor for non-native species. This could consequently lead to a rapid removal of native species from the environment and a faster establishment of non-native species in these abandoned niches. Another reason for the high rate of non-native species is that hot springs provide favorable environmental conditions, especially for aquarium and ornamental fish. Hot springs are located close to highly populated areas (i.e. some metropolitan cities such as Eskişehir, Sakarya), where aquarium trade is common and this situation increases the transportation of ornamental fish to these water sources.
For the ecological status of aquatic ecosystems to be sustainable, the existing balance must be kept stable. When non-native species enter a new aquatic system, they can cause changes in the existing ichthyofauna. This situation can lead to a series of negative consequences, causing significant damage to aquatic habitats and sustainable ecological services. To prevent these negative effects and ensure sustainable ecological services of aquatic ecosystems, non-native fish species should be continuously monitored and relevant management actions should be implemented.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.


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