The introduction of exotic fish can have profound effects on wetland ecosystems, making it important to understand wetland vulnerability to invasion. Recently, African jewelfish (Hemichromis letourneuxi) have invaded wetlands in a hydrologically altered agricultural landscape at Archbold Biological Station in peninsular Florida. We sampled 45 wetlands using minnow traps to determine the current distribution and relative abundance of African jewelfish and brown hoplo (Hoplosternum littorale), another established exotic fish. We examined whether wetland area, depth, or distance to nearest ditch influenced the distribution or catch-per-unit-effort (CPUE) of these species. We also measured the total length and weight of 864 African jewelfish and examined gut contents to determine the body condition and diet of this newly established population. African jewelfish were found in only 22% of wetlands but were the most frequently captured vertebrate in those wetlands (mean 8.30 ± 0.81 se individuals/trap-night). Wetland area was the only significant predictor of African jewelfish distribution and was positively correlated with the combined CPUE of African jewelfish and brown hoplo. Distance to nearest ditch and exotic fish CPUE were inversely correlated. None of the factors examined influenced brown hoplo distribution. The African jewelfish were in good condition, and their diet consisted primarily of fish and macroinvertebrates. Additional research is needed to determine the effects of African jewelfish on native freshwater communities.
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Vol. 170 • No. 1