Ecological and social consequences of introduced species in tropical systems

Introduction of species into unfamiliar environments often comes with unpredictable consequences. Determining the consequences of these species introductions is essential in order to manage introduced populations while also understanding and preventing future species invasion.


Introduced hippos in Colombia

Overview: In the 1980s, four hippos were introduced to the middle Magdalena Basin of Colombia as part of a private zoo. Years later, the animals were abandoned and their population began to expand. Today, it is estimated that there are around 40-50 hippos (and counting) in Colombia. Research by Tropical Rivers Lab and collaborators aims to document the introduction and spread of hippos in Colombia, as well as their potential ecological and social consequences. 

Main Collaborators: Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Universidad de Antioquia, CORNARE, Yale University, National Geographic


Arapaima introductions in Bolivia

Overview: Arapaima are native to much of the Amazon, and their populations are threatened in many areas by overfishing. Historically, Arapaima did not occur in the Bolivian Amazon due to barriers (rapids and small waterfalls) along the Madeira River near the border between Bolivia and Brazil. However, Arapaima were introduced into the upper parts of the Madeira Basin many years ago, and their populations have since expanded, potentially with negative effects to native fishes and fisheries. The result is an Amazon conservation conundrum: a species that is threatened in much of its native range and invasive to areas where its been introduced. Research by Tropical Rivers Lab, to start in 2018, will examine local perceptions of Arapaima in areas where its native and threatened (Colombia) and invasive (Bolivia).


Introduced Peacocks in Coconut Grove and Coral Gables Miami, FL.

Overview: Peafowl are native to India, however, there are extensive populations living and thriving in Miami, Florida, more specifically in the Coconut Grove and Coral Gables areas today. There is no documented research on how or when these birds were introduced or what their ecological impacts are on the ecosystem in these specific areas. Research by Tropical Rivers Lab aims to gain a better understanding of the historical introduction of these peafowls in the Coconut Grove and Coral Gables areas, analyze the varied social perceptions from tourists, residents and key informants, and gather information on the population abundances and ecological impacts these peafowls may have on the environment.

Main Collaborators: The Kampong, National Tropical Botanical Garden