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Acta Limnologica Brasiliensia

Print version ISSN 0102-6712On-line version ISSN 2179-975X

Acta Limnol. Bras. vol.29  Rio Claro  2017  Epub May 15, 2017 

Opinion Article

The small foreigner: new laws will promote the introduction of non-native zooplankton in Brazilian aquatic environments

O pequeno forasteiro: novas leis favorecerão a introdução de espécies não-nativas de zooplâncton em ambientes aquáticos brasileiros

Paula Nunes Coelho1  * 

Raoul Henry1 

1Department of Zoology, Institute of Biosciences, Universidade Estadual Paulista – UNESP, “Campus” of Botucatu, CP 510, CEP 18618-000, Botucatu, SP, Brazil



Non-native species of zooplankton have been introduced in Brazilian continental aquatic environments for a variety of reasons (e.g., non-native fish stocking, aquaculture), but many pathways of zooplankton introductions remain unknown. Recently, the governor of the State of Amazonas passed Law No. 79/2016, which allows for aquaculture operations using non-native fish in that state. This change in policy will likely result in the species introduction or propagule pressure of non-native zooplankton such as: Mesocyclops ogunnus Onabamiro, 1957; Kellicottia bostoniensis (Rousselet, 1908); Daphnia lumholtzi Sars, 1885; Lernaea cyprinacea (Linnaeus, 1758); Lamproglena monodi Capart, 1944. Of further concern is federal law No. 5989/09, which proposes the use of non-native fish in Brazilian aquaculture nationwide. We believe that both laws will intensify the introduction of non-native zooplankton. Once established in aquatic environments, non-native species of zooplankton could result in negative impacts (e.g., a loss of ecosystem services, food web alterations). Therefore, Brazilian authorities should incentivize the use of local native species rather than pass laws that threaten the environment.

Keywords:  biological invasions; propagule pressure; Neotropical; freshwater; environmental policy



Espécies não-nativas de zooplâncton foram introduzidas em ambientes aquáticos continentais Brasileiros por uma variedade de razões (e.g., estocagem de peixes não nativos, aquicultura), mas muitas vias de introdução de zooplâncton permanecem desconhecidas. Recentemente, o governador do Estado do Amazonas aprovou a Lei nº 79/2016, que permite operações de aquicultura utilizando peixes não-nativos nesse estado. Esta mudança de política provavelmente resultará na introdução de espécies ou pressão de propágulos de zooplâncton não-nativos, tais como: Mesocyclops ogunnus Onabamiro, 1957; Kellicottia bostoniensis (Rousselet, 1908); Daphnia lumholtzi Sars, 1885; Lernaea cyprinacea (Linnaeus, 1758); Lamproglena monodi Capart, 1944. Outro motivo de preocupação é a lei federal, N ° 5989/09, que propõe o uso de peixes não-nativos na aquicultura brasileira em todo o país. Acreditamos que ambas as leis favorecerão a introdução de zooplâncton não-nativos. Uma vez estabelecido em ambientes aquáticos, zooplâncton não-nativos podem resultar em impactos negativos (e.g., uma perda nos serviços ecossistêmicos, alterações na cadeia alimentar). Portanto, as autoridades brasileiras deveriam incentivar o uso de espécies locais nativas em vez de aprovar leis que ameacem o meio ambiente.

Palavras-chave:  invasões biológicas; pressão de propágulo; Neotropical; água doce; política ambiental

In Brazil, non-native zooplankton species were introduced in continental aquatic environments for different reasons (see Table 1), mainly associated with fish (Gabrielli & Orsi, 2000; Silva & Roche, 2017). For instance, Mesocyclops ogunnus Onabamiro, 1957, has already been introduced through the cultivation of tilapia in the Amazon basin: however, in this region this species seems so far to be restricted to the Jamari River (Silva & Roche, 2017; Figure 1). Another example is the Kellicottia bostoniensis (Rousselet, 1908) which was introduced in lakes of the Middle River Doce, in Minas Gerais State (Peixoto et al., 2010). Copepods of the family Lernaeidae [e.g., Lernaea cyprinacea (Linnaeus, 1758)] were also introduced in Brazilian environments together with fish (e.g., Gabrielli & Orsi, 2000; Azevedo et al., 2012).

Table 1 Examples of non-native zooplankton species introduced into Brazilian freshwater environments and their possible paths. 

Species Geographical origin Locality of introduction Reasons of introduction References
Ceriodaphnia dubia Richard, 1894 Europe Belgo-Mineira Lagoon (Doce River Basin) and Machado Mineiro Reservoir (Pardo River Basin) Unknown Eskinazi-Sant’Anna et al. (2005); Santos-Wisniewski et al. (2011)
Furnas, Billings and Taiaçupeba Reservoirs (Paraná River Basin) Ecotoxicological tests Abreu et al. (2010); Rocha et al. (2011)
Daphnia lumholtzi (Sars, 1885) Australia, southwestern Asia and Africa Três Irmãos Reservoir (Paraná River Basin) Fish stocking Zanata et al. (2003)
Kellicottia bostoniensis (Rousselet, 1908) North America Itapecerica River (São Francisco River Basin) Unknown Ferraz et al. (2009)
Lake Dom Helvécio (Doce River Basin) Unknown Maia-Barbosa et al. (2008)
Lakes Carioca, Águas Claras and Jacaré (Doce River Basin) Fish stocking Peixoto et al. (2010)
Paiva Castro, Billings, Águas Claras, Taiaçupeba, Jundiaí, Guarapiranga Reservoirs (Paraná River Basin) Unknown Lucinda et al. (2004)
Furnas and Lagoa do Nado Reservoirs (Paraná River Basin) Ballast water Edmondson (1959); Reid & Pinto-Coelho, (1994) apud Bezerra-Neto et al. (2004)
Furnas Reservoir (Paraná River Basin) Unknown Landa et al. (2002)
Xirica, São João and Saraiva Lagoons (Paraná River Basin) Unknown Bomfim et al. (2015)
Lernaea cyprinacea (Linnaeus, 1758) Europe, Asia, Africa and North America Santo Antônio stream (Paraíba do Sul River Basin) Aquaculture Magalhães (2006)
São Francisco River (São Francisco River Basin) Unknown Demaree Junior (1967); Santos & Brasil-Sato (2004)
Paranapanema, Taquari and Tabagi Rivers (Paraná River Basin) Aquaculture Gabrielli & Orsi (2000); Acosta et al. (2013)
Mesocyclops ogunnus Onabamiro, 1957 Africa and Asia Furnas Reservoir (Paraná River Basin) Fish stocking Van de Velde (1984); Reid & Pinto-Coelho (1994)
Guaraná and Pato Lakes (Paraná River Basin) Unknown Lansac-Tôha et al. (2002)
Barra Bonita, Bariri, Ibitinga, Promissão, Nova Avanhandava, Três Irmãos and Juruminin Reservoirs (Paraná River Basin) Fish stocking Van de Velde (1984); Matsumura-Tundisi & Silva (2002)
Lake Dom Helvécio (Doce River Basin) Unknown Maia-Barbosa et al. (2008)
Lake Dom Helvécio (Doce River Basin) Fish stocking Peixoto et al. (2010)
Três Lagoas Fish stocking Van de Velde (1984); Cardôso et al. (2013)
Jamari River (Amazon River Basin ) Aquaculture Van de Velde (1984); Silva & Roche (2017)
Lamproglena monodi Capart, 1944, Africa Guandu River (Paraíba do Sul River Basin) Aquaculture or fish stocking Azevedo et al. (2012)

Figure 1 Examples of non-native zooplankton introduced in different Brazilian environments: Ceriodaphnia dubia, yellow circle; Daphnia lumholtzi, black circle; Kellicottia bostoniensis, white circle; Lamproglena monodi, pink circle; Lernaea cyprinacea, orange circle; Mesocyclops ogunnus, red circle (Sampling sites; see Table 1). 

The governor of the State of Amazonas passed Law No. 79/2016, which, among other things, allows aquaculture of non-native fishes in that state (Tofoli et al., 2016; Padial et al., 2017). In addition, there is also a federal Project Law No. 5989/09, which intends to allow aquaculture of non-native fishes (including carps and tilapias) in reservoirs of Brazil (Azevedo-Santos et al., 2011; Vitule et al., 2012; Pelicice et al., 2014). This change in policy will result in introductions of non-native fishes (Azevedo-Santos et al., 2011; Pelicice et al., 2014; Padial et al., 2017); however, we note that another consequence of these laws will be the increased introductions or a greater propagule pressure of non-native zooplankton species such as M. ogunnus, K. bostoniensis, Daphnia lumholtzi Sars, 1885, L. cyprinacea and Lamproglena monodi Capart, 1944 and several others. Adults and eggs of these species can by transported with small non-native fish (e.g., Peixoto et al., 2010) that will be stocked in cages or similar structures in rivers and/or reservoirs. In addition, zooplankton (Cladocera and Rotifera) can reproduce asexually (e.g., Allan, 1976), meaning that they could establish a population with just a single individual.

Non-native zooplankton present unique challenges that complicate their management. For example, the detection of microscopic zooplankton may take longer than other macroscopic non-native organisms (e.g., fish, molluscs), because of the necessity of microscope. In addition, the study of zooplankton communities requires high-frequency time series sampling, which often is not possible due to budgetary or logistic constraints. Finally, correct taxonomic identification of invertebrates often requires specialists. Even with specialists, unfamiliar microscopic organisms can lead to erroneous or doubtful identifications (e.g., Matsumura-Tundisi & Silva, 2002), and make it difficult to detect the introduction of organisms.

It is usually more difficult to control or eradicate an introduced non-native species once they are established (Lodge et al., 2006) and zooplankton can pose a high risk of adverse socio-ecological impacts (e.g., Foster & Sprules, 2009). For instance, the establishment of the non-native cladoceran Bythotrephes longimanus into Lake Mendota (U.S.A.) directly influenced the food web through a trophic cascade, caused a decline in water clarity and accelerated the effects of cultural eutrophication (Walsh et al., 2016). Thus, the best solution is to prevent new events of introduction (Azevedo-Santos et al., 2015). Once established, damages may be irreversible and expensive. In this context, Brazilian politicians and authorities should incentivize the use of local native fish species rather than pass laws that threaten the environment and the natural resources of the future generations (Lima Junior et al., 2012). In addition, political decisions must be made on the basis of scientific evidence to avoid unsustainable development (Azevedo-Santos et al., 2017). In conclusion, we make a call the development of protocols that will minimize the introduction of non-native zooplankton (and other organisms) due to aquaculture operations in aquatic environments.


We wish thanks to Jake Walsh, for the valuable suggestions, and Douglas D. Kane, for editing the English.

Cite as: Coelho, P.N. and Henry, R. The small foreigner: new laws will promote the introduction of non-native zooplankton in Brazilian aquatic environments. Acta Limnologica Brasiliensia, 2017, vol. 29, e7.


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Received: January 25, 2017; Accepted: April 25, 2017

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