Jalbert, C., Falke J.A., Lopez, J.A., Dunker, K.J., Sepulveda, A.J., and P.A.H. Westley. 2021. Vulnerability of Pacific salmon to invasion of northern pike (Esox lucius) in Southcentral Alaska. PLOS ONE 16(7): e0254097. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0254097.
The relentless role of invasive species in the extinction of native biota requires predictions of ecosystem vulnerability to inform proactive management strategies. The worldwide invasion and range expansion of predatory northern pike (Esox lucius) has been linked to the decline of native fishes and tools are needed to predict the vulnerability of habitats to invasion over broad geographic scales. To address this need, we coupled an intrinsic potential habitat modelling approach with a Bayesian network to evaluate the vulnerability of five culturally and economically vital species of Pacific salmon (Oncorhynchus spp.) to invasion by northern pike. This study was conducted along 22,875 stream km in the Southcentral region of Alaska, USA. Pink salmon (O. gorbuscha) were the most vulnerable species, with 15.2% (2,458 km) of their calculated extent identified as “highly” vulnerable, followed closely by chum salmon (O. keta, 14.8%; 2,557 km) and coho salmon (O. kisutch, 14.7%; 2,536 km). Moreover, all five Pacific salmon species were highly vulnerable in 1,001 stream km of shared habitat. This simple to implement, adaptable, and cost-effective framework will allow prioritizing habitats for early detection and monitoring of invading northern pike.