Document Type : Original Article


1 Department of Biodiversity and Ecosystems Management, Environmental Sciences Research Institute, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran

2 Department of Animal Sciences and Marine Biology, Faculty of Life Sciences and Biotechnology, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran

3 Department of Fisheries, Sari Agriculture Sciences and Natural Resources University, Sari, Mazandaran, Iran



The intentional and unintentional introduction of non-native fish species to the aquatic ecosystems of Iran has occurred with purposes such as enhancing aquaculture, ornamentation, biological control, and research. Some of them cause or have the potential to cause, significant environmental and socio-economic impacts on aquatic ecosystems and/or fish farms. The eradication of non-native fishes is impossible or very costly, especially in large areas. Screening and identifying the potential invasiveness of species are being increasingly used all over the world. The main aim of the present research was to assess the potential invasiveness of redbelly Tilapia Coptodon zillii in Anzali international wetland.
Material and methods:
Aquatic Species Invasiveness Screening Kit (AS-ISK) was used to identify redbelly Tilapia Coptodon zillii as a non-native fish that may pose a high potential risk of becoming invasion in Anzali Wetland. The model is able to discriminate between invasive and non-invasive aquatic organisms including non-native fishes by risk area-related threshold value. Also, the Köppen-Geiger climate system and Climatch software were used to match the climate between the native range of redbelly Tilapia and Anzali Wetland. The projected future climate change scenario was taken from relevant studies to carry out Climate Change Assessment (CCA) of the AS-ISK.
Results and discussion:
 The output of the AS-ISK was 44 for redbelly Tilapia that was higher than the AS-ISK threshold value of the risk assessment area, which meant that the species pose a potential risk of becoming invasive in Anzali wetland. There was a high climate-mating between the native range of redbelly Tilapia and the assessed area when the Köppen-Geiger climate system was used. At least one native habitat of redbelly Tilapia in the system was in the same climate category as the studied area. Also, the Climatch model output was 0.87 that shows a high climate matching for the non-native fish. The CCA had an increasing effect on the total score of the AS-ISK. The factors that increased the AS-ISK score were climate-mating, probable climate change, biological attributes, and invasiveness history of other places that the species was introduced. The comparison of the results of this study and other relevant studies that used AS-ISK to assess potential invasiveness of redbelly Tilapia showed that the species had the potential of becoming an invader in Anzali Wetland as well as some other areas around the country.
While non-native fishes are frequently used to enhance aquaculture in the country, a rapid assessment tool is required to avoid nuisance environmental impacts. The AS-ISK can be reliably used as a tool to predict the potential risk of becoming invasive in Anzali Wetland and elsewhere to be used by conservation managers, decision-makers, and policymakers in the aquaculture development plans.


  1. Abbasi, K., Sarpanah, A., Moradi, M. and Nezami, M., 2013. Study on relative abundance of fishes in four areas of Anzali lagoon. In Proceedings National Conference of Biological Sciences, 26th–27th February, Damghan Azad University, Damghan, Iran. P. 225. (In Persian with English abstract).
  2. Abbasi, K., Moradi, M. and Mirzajani, A., 2019. Anzali wetland basin fishes, First ed. Green Books, Lahijan Press, Iran. (In Persian).
  3. Abdoli, A. and Naderi, M., 2009. Biodiversity of fishes of the southern basin of the Caspian Sea, First ed. Abzian Publishers, Iran. (In Persian).
  4. Aly, S.M., 2013. A Review of Fish Diseases in the Egyptian Aquaculture Sector. Working Report. Research Program on livestock and fish. CGIAR 1 – 41. Egyptian.
  5. Amaechi, C.E., 2015. Prevalence, intensity and abundance of endoparasites in Oreochromis niloticus and Tilapia zillii (Pisces: Cichlidae) from Asa Dam, Ilorin, Nigeria. Research Journal of the Costa Rican Distance Education University. 7(1), 67-70.
  6. Andreu-Soler, A. and Ruiz-Campos, G., 2013. Effects of exotic fishes on the somatic condition of the endangered Killifish Fundulus lima (Teleostei: Fundulidae) in oases of Baja California Sur, Mexico. The Southwestern Naturalist. 58(2), 192-201.
  7. Azizi, G. and Roshani, M., 2008. Using Mann-Kendall test to recognize of climate change in Caspian Sea southern coasts. Geographical Research Quarterly. 40, 13–28. (In Persian with English abstract).
  8. Bazrafshan, J., Hejabi, S. and Hasheminasab, A., 2015. Future climate change impact on drought classes transition probabilities in extreme climates of Iran (case study: Bandar Anzali and Bushehr Stations). Journal of Water and Soil Conservation. 22,131–150. (In Persian with English abstract).
  9. Bomford, M., 2008. Risk assessment models for establishment of exotic vertebrates in Australia and New Zealand, Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre, Report. Australia. Available online at: content/uploads/2010/03/Risk_Assess_Models_2008_FINAL.pdf 42.
  10. Britton, J.R., Copp, G.H., Brazier, M. and Davies, G.D., 2011. A modular assessment tool for managing introduced fishes according to risks of species and their populations, and impacts of management actions. Biological Invasions. 13, 2847–2860.
  11. BRS, 2019. CLIMATCH v1. Available online at:
  12. Clarke, S.A., Vilizzi, L., Lee, L., Wood, L.E., Cowie, W.J., Burt, J.A., Mamiit, R.J.E., Ali, H., Davison, P.I., Fenwick, G.V., Harmer, R., Skora, M.E., Kozic, S., Aislabie, L.R., LeQuesne, W.J.F., Copp, G.H. and Stebbing, P.D., 2019. Identifying potentially invasive non‐native marine and brackish water species for the Arabian Gulf and Sea of Oman. Global Change Biology. 26, 2081-2092.
  13. Cefas, 2019. AS-ISKv2.1. Available online at:
  14. Coad, B.W. and Abdoli, A., 1993. Exotic fish species in the fresh waters of Iran. Zoology in the Middle East. 9, 65–80.
  15. Cohen, A.N., 2002. Success factors in the establishment of human-dispersed organisms. In proceedings Dispersal Ecology, the 42nd Symposium of the British Ecological Society, In proceedings the University of Reading, 2th-5th April. British Ecological Society and Blackwell Publishing, Oxford, UK. p. 374.
  16. Copp, G.H., Wesley, K.J. and Vilizzi, L., 2005. Pathways of ornamental and aquarium fish introductions into urban ponds of Epping Forest (London, England): the human vector. Journal of Applied Ichthyology. 21, 263–274.
  17. Copp, G.H., Wesley, K.J., Verreycken, H. and Russell, I.C., 2007a. When an ‘invasive’ ï‌sh species fails to invade! Example of the topmouth gudgeon Pseudorasbora parva. Aquatic Invasions. 2, 107–112.
  18. Copp G.H., Britton J.R., Jeney G., Joly J-P., Gherardi F., Gollasch S., Gozlan R.E., Jones G., MacLeod A., Midtlyng P.J., Moissec L., Nunn A.D., Occhipinti-Ambrogi A., Oidtmann B., Olenin S., Peeler E.J., Russell I.C., Savini D., Tricarico E. and Thrush M., 2008. Risk assessment protocols and decision making tools for use of alien species in aquaculture and stock enhancement. Report to the European Commission. UK.
  19. Copp, G.H., Vilizzi, L., Tidbury, H., Stebbing, P.D., Tarkan, A.S., Moissec L. and Goulletquer P.H., 2016a. Development of a generic decision-support tool for identifying potentially invasive aquatic taxa: AS-ISK. Management of Biological Invasions. 7, 343–350.
  20. Costa-Pierce, B.A., 2003. Rapid evolution of an established feral tilapia (Oreochromis spp.) the need to incorporate invasion science into regulatory structures. Biological Invasions. 5, 71-84.
  21. Crombie, J., Brown, L., Lizzio, J. and Hood, G., 2008. Climatch User Manual. Available online at:
  22. Crutchfield, J.U., 1995. Establishment and expansion of redbelly tilapia and blue tilapia in power plant cooling reservoir. American Fisheries Society Symposium. 15, 452-461.
  23. David, M., Perkovič, M., Suban, V. and Gollasch, S., 2012. A generic ballast water discharge assessment model as a decision supporting tool in ballast water management. Decision Support Systems. 53, 175–185.
  24. Ebrahimi, H. and Kardevani, P., 2014. Recognition on the climate change in International Anzali Wetland using Mann-Kendal test. Journal of Wetland Ecobiology. 6, 59–71. (In Persian with English abstract).
  25. Esmaeili, H.R., Teimori, A., Owfi, F., Abbasi, K. and Coad, B.W., 2014. Alien and invasive freshwater fish species in Iran: Diversity, environmental impacts and management. Iranian Journal of Ichthyology. 1, 61–72.
  26. Fletcher, D.H., Gillingham, P.K., Britton J.R., Blanchet, S. and Gozlan, R.E., 2016. Predicting global invasion risks: a management tool to prevent future introduction. Scientific Reports 6. Available online at: 10.1038/srep26316- 6 pp.
  27. Froese, R. and Pauly, D., 2019. Fishbase. Available online at:
  28. FWS, 2019. Risk assessment mapping program: RAMP, version 3.1. U.S. Available online at:
  29. FWS, 2019. Tilapia zillii (Coptodon zillii). Available online at: https:// fisheries/ ans/erss/highrisk/ERSS-Coptodon-zillii-final-November2019.pdf
  30. Gophen, M., 2016. Study on the Biology of Tilapia zillii (Gervais, 1848) in Lake Kinneret (Israel). Open Journal of Ecology. 6, 167-175.
  31. Gophen, M., 2017. Experimental Study of the Feeding Habits of Tilapia zillii (Gervais) in Lake Kinneret. Journal of Modern Hydrology. 7, 1-10.
  32. Grise, S.N., 2011. Evaluating the risk of non-native aquatic species range expansions in a changing climate in Pennsylvania. PhD thesis. Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania. USA.
  33. Hayes, K.R. and Barry, S.C., 2008. Are there any consistent predictors of invasion success? Biological Invasions. 10, 483–506.
  34. I.P.C.C., 2005. Guidance Notes for Lead Authors of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report on Addressing Uncertainties. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, WMO & UNEP. Available online at:
  35. Ishikawa, T. and Tachihara, K., 2008. Age, growth and maturation of the redbelly tilapia Tilapia zillii introduced into the Haebaru Reservoir on Okinawa-jima Island. Fisheries Science. 74, 527–532.
  36. Kazemirad, L. and Mohammadi, H., 2015. Climate change assessment by using LARS-WG model in Gilan province (Iran). Geography and Environmental Hazard. 4, 55–73. (In Persian with English abstract).
  37. Kumschick, S. and Richardson, D.M., 2003. Species‐based risk assessments for biological invasions: advances and challenges. Diversity Distribution. 19, 1095–1105.
  38. Kolar, C.S. and Lodge, D.M., 2002. Ecological predictions and risk assessment for Alien fishes in North America. Science. 238, 1233-1236.
  39. Luskova, V., Lusk, S., Halačka, K. and Vetešnik, L., 2010. Carassius auratus gibelio – the most successful invasive fish in waters of the Czech Republic. Russian Journal of Biological Invasions. 1, 176–180.
  40. Moghaddas, S.D., Abdoli, A., Kiabi, B.H. and Hossein Rahmani, H., 2019. Risk assessment of potential invasive non-native fish species in Anzali Wetland, using Discriminant analysis. In proceedings 4th International congress of Developing Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment and Tourism. 14th-16th August. Tabriz, Iran. P. 305. (In Persian with English abstract).
  41. Moghaddas, S.D., Abdoli, A., Kiabi, B.H., Rahmani, H., Vilizzi, L. and Copp, G.H., 2020. Risk screening for potentially invasive non native freshwater fishes in the Anzali Wetland Complex (Iran). Fisheries Management and Ecology. (In Press).
  42. Mousavi-Sabet, H., 2019. Exotic ornamental fishes in Iranian inland water basins: an updated checklist. Journal of Animal Diversity. 1, 1–10.
  43. Moyle, P.B. and Light, T., 1996. Biological invasions of fresh water: Empirical rules and assembly theory. Biological Conservation. 78, 149–161.
  44. Nejat, F., Abdoli, A., Kiabi, B.H. and Mostafavi, H., 2017. A study on distribution of non-native and invasive fish species of Iranian freshwater ecosystems, regarding to climate change. MSc. Thesis. Shahid Beheshti University. Iran.
  45. Pazooki, J. and Masoumian, M., 2012. Synopsis of the parasites in Iranian freshwater fishes. Iranian Journal of Fisheries Sciences. 11, 570–589.
  46. Peel, M.C., Finlayson, B.L. and McMahon, T.A., 2007. Updated world map of Köppen-Geiger climate classification. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences. 11, 1633-1644.
  47. Peterson, M.S., Slack, W.T. and Woodley, C.M., 2005. The occurrence of non-indigenous Nile tilapia, Oreochromis niloticus (Linnaeus) in coastal Mississippi, USA: ties to aquaculture and thermal effluent. Wetlands. 25, 112-121.
  48. Pheloung, P.C., Williams, P.A. and Halloy, S.R., 1999. A weed risk assessment model for use as a biosecurity tool evaluating plant introductions. Journal of Environmental Management. 57, 239-251.
  49. Platt, S. and Hauser, W.J., 1978. Optimum Temperature for Feeding and Growth of Tilapia zillii. The Progressive Fish-Culturist. 40, 105-107.
  50. Pourgholam Moghadam, A. and Abdolahpour Biriah, H., 2011. Determine recurrence rate of farming Chinese carps released into western area of Anzali wetland. Journal of Fisheries, Islamic Azad University, Azadshahr Branch. 4, 23–30. (In Persian).
  51. Radkhah, A.R., Eagderi, S. and Asadi, H., 2016. Length-weight relationship and condition factor for five fish species in the wetland and Talar River of the Caspian Sea basin of Iran. Journal of Entomology and Zoology Studies. 4, 122–123.
  52. Rahel, F.J. and Olden, J.D., 2008. Assessing the effects of climate change on aquatic invasive species. Conservation Biology. 22, 521–533.
  53. Reinthal, P.N. and Stiassny, M.L.J., 1991. The freshwater fishes of Madagascar: a study of an endangered fauna with recommendations for a conservation strategy. Conservation Biology. 5, 231-242.
  54. Ramin, M., Khalifenimsaz, M., Mohamadkhani, H., Abedini, A., Nazari, K., Kianerci, F. and Daghighi, R., 2015. Identification and introduction of aquaculture capacities Inland waters of the country. Research report. Iranian fisheries science research institute, Iran. (In Persian).
  55. Ramsar Convention Secretariat, 2016. The forth Ramsar strategic plan 2016-2024, Ramsar handbooks for the wise use of wetlands, 5ed. Ramsar Convention Secretariat, Gland, Switzerland.
  56. Raziei, T., 2017. Köppen-Geiger climate classification of Iran and investigation of its changes during 20th century. Journal of Earth and Space Physics. 43, 419–439. (In Persian with English abstract).
  57. Sattari, M., Mokhayer, B., Khara, H., Nezami, S. and Shafii, S., 2007. Occurrence and intensity of parasites in some bony fish species of Anzali wetland from the southwest of the Caspian Sea. Bulletin- European Association of Fish Pathologists. 27, 54–62.
  58. Spataru, P., 1978. Food and feeding habits of Tilapia zillii (Gervais) (Cichlidae) in Lake Kinneret (Israel). Aquaculture. 14, 327-338.
  59. Tarkan, A.S., Vilizzi, L., Top, N., Ekmekçiɜ, F.G., Stebbing, P.D. and Copp, G.H., 2017a. Identification of potentially invasive freshwater fishes, including translocated species, in Turkey using the Aquatic Species Invasiveness screening kit (AS-ISK). International Review of Hydrobiology. 102, 47–56.
  60. Tarkan, A.S., Sarı, H.M., İlhan, A., Kurtul, I. and Vilizzi, L., 2017b. Risk screening of non-native and translocated freshwater fish species in a Mediterranean-type shallow lake: Lake Marmara (West Anatolia). Zoology in the Middle East. 63, 48–57.
  61. Taylor, J., Snyder, D. and Courtenay, W., 1986. Hybridization between Two Introduced, Substrate-Spawning Tilapias (Pisces: Cichlidae) in Florida. Copeia. 1986(4), 903-909.
  62. Van der Veer, G. and Nentwig, W., 2015. Environmental and economic impact assessment of alien and invasive fish species in Europe using the generic impact scoring system. Ecology of Freshwater Fish. 24, 646–656.
  63. Vilizzi, L., Copp, G.H., Adamovich, B., Chan, J., Davison, P.I. Dembski, S., Ekmekc, F.G.¸. Ferincz, A., Forneck, S.C., Hill, J.H., Kim, J., Koutsikos, N., Leuven, R., Luna, S.A., Magalhǎes, F., Marr, S.M., Mendoza, R., Mourǎo, C.F., Neal, W.J., Onikura, N., Perdikaris, C., Piria, M., Poulet, N., Puntila, R., Range, L., Simonovic´, P., Ribeiro, F., Tarkan, A.S., Troca, D., Leonidas Vardakas, L., Verreycken, H., Vintsek, L. and Zeng, Y., 2019. A global review and meta-analysis of applications of the freshwater Fish Invasiveness Screening Kit. Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries. 29, 529-268.
  64. Valikhani, H., Abdoli, A., Kiabi, B.H., Nejat, F., Sadeghsaba, M. and Khosravi, M., 2018. A study on the status of invasive tilapia species (Coptodon zillii Gervais, 1848 and Oreochromis aureus Steindachner, 1864) in the aquatic ecosystems of Khuzestan Province, Iran. Environmental Sciences. 15, 29-44. (In Persian with English abstract).
  65. Wang, T., Jakovlić, I., Huang, D., Wang, J.G. and Shen, J.Z., 2016. Reproductive strategy of the invasive sharp belly, Hemiculter leucisculus (Basilewsky 1855), in Erhai Lake, China. Journal Applied Ichthyology. 32, ‌324–33.
  66. Welcomme, R.L., 1992. A history of international introductions of inland aquatic species. ICES Marine Science Symposium. 194, 3-14.
  67. Yerli, S.V., Mangıt, F., Emiroğlu Ö., Yeğen, V., Uysal, R., Ünlüb, E., Alp, A., Buhan, E., Yıldırım, T. and Zengin, M., 2014. Distribution of Invasive Carassius gibelio (Bloch, 1782) (Teleostei:Cyprinidae) in Turkey. Turkish Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences. 14, 581-590.
  68. Yildirim, Y.B., Zeren, A., Genc, E., Erol, C. and Konas, E., 2010. Parasitological investigation on commercially important fish and crustacean species collected from the TIGEM (Dortyol Turkey) ponds. Journal of Animal and Veterinary Advances. 9, 1597-1602.