Invasive species are recognized as a major cause of biodiversity decline. Legal regulations relating to the prevention, control, or eradication of invasive species should always be up-to-date, as the failure to recognize the problem, lack of adequate scientific information, or long legal intervals required to prepare the legislation may result in irreversible, possibly catastrophic, outcomes. This implies constant monitoring of the species distribution and levels of establishment, as well as detailed knowledge about its biology to predict dissemination and viability under changing environmental conditions. Pre-screening kits for potential invasive species are valuable tools for policy makers, as they provide information about if and how management measures should be taken. The Freshwater Fish Invasiveness Scoring Kit (FISK) and the Aquatic Species Invasiveness Screening Kit (AS-ISK) have been suggested as reliable tools to assess the potential risk of a species becoming invasive. The present study highlights the spread of the non-native chameleon cichlid Australoheros facetus
in several streams of the major river drainages in southern Portugal and compares the fish assemblages and ecological indices in two selected sites in the Vascão and Odelouca rivers. We reviewed the current knowledge on the distribution, physiology, and behavior of A. facetus
, and applied the toolkits FISK v2 and AS-ISK to this species to evaluate whether the species should be classified as invasive in Portugal. Field data show high abundance of the species in most streams and dominance in specific hotspots. The scores reached by the kits (FISK v2: 23; AS-ISK: 37) places A. facetus
as a species with high potential of invasiveness and support the recent inclusion of this species in the invasive species list in Portugal (Decree-Law 92/2019), but, most of all, highlights the importance of frequent updates in both the field monitoring and the legal regulation and watch lists of invasive organisms.
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