Invasion status of Florida bass <i>Micropterus floridanus</i> (Lesueur, 1822) in South Africa

<p>Largemouth bass <i>Micropterus salmoides</i> are a popular North American angling species that was introduced into South Africa in 1928. To enhance the largemouth bass fisheries, Florida bass <i>Micropterus floridanus</i> were introduced into KwaZulu Natal, South Africa, in 1980. Knowledge on the status of <i>M. floridanus</i> in South Africa is required, because it lives longer and reaches larger sizes than <i>M. salmoides</i>, which may result in heightened impacts on native biota. Because <i>M. floridanus</i> are morphologically similar, but genetically distinct from <i>M. salmoides</i>, the distribution of this species was assessed by genetically screening 185 <i>Micropterus</i> sp. individuals sampled from 20 localities across South Africa using the mitochondrial ND2 gene. Individuals with mitochondrial DNA matching <i>M. salmoides</i> were recovered from 16 localities, whereas <i>M. floridanus</i> mitochondrial DNA was recovered from 13 localities. At nine localities (45%), the mitochondrial DNA of both species was detected. These results demonstrate <i>M. floridanus</i> dispersal to multiple sites across South Africa.</p>