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The First Record of the Large-scale Loach Paramisgurnus dabryanus (Cobitidae) in the United States

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Exotic species have been implicated as a major threat to native freshwater fish communities in the Unites States. The San Francisco Estuary watershed has been recognized as one of the most invaded systems where exotics often dominate the fish community. On October 6, 2014, members of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service detected a previously unknown exotic fish in a disconnected pool immediately upstream from the Chowchilla Bifurcation Structure in the San Joaquin River, a major tributary of the San Francisco Estuary. A member of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service initially identified the fish as an Oriental Weatherfish Misgurnus anguillicaudatus using external morphological characteristics. We conducted additional fish sampling near the Chowchilla Bifurcation Structure in November 2014 and collected a total of six additional specimens in disconnected pool habitats. Unexpectedly, genetic and meristic techniques revealed that these specimens were Large-Scale Loach Paramisgurnus dabryanus. To our knowledge this is the first confirmed occurrence of Large-Scale Loach in the United States and the suspected pathway of introduction is release from aquaria. Very little is known about the population in the San Joaquin River. We recommend further evaluation of the ecology, distribution, and abundance of Large-Scale Loach to better understand their potential impact on the fish communities of the San Joaquin River and the likelihood of establishment throughout the United States.

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