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Endemic freshwater finfish of Asia: distribution and conservation status

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Freshwater finfish species richness and level of endemism in East, and South and South-East Asia that included 17 nations were studied using available databases, and included nation-wise distribution, habitat types, and conservation status. The number of endemic finfish species in the region was 559, belonging to 47 families. Families Cyprinidae and Balitoridae accounted for 43.5% and 16.2% of the total number of endemic species in the region, respectively, followed by Sisoridae (25), Gobiidae (20), Melanotaeniidae (19), and Bagridae (16), and the other 41 families had at least one endemic species. Nation-wise the most number of endemic freshwater finfish species occur in India (191), followed by China (88), Indonesia (84), and Myanmar (60). In India, the endemic species accounted for 26.4% of the native freshwater fish fauna, followed by South Korea (16.9%), the Philippines, (16.3%) and Myanmar (15.7%).

Statistically significant relationships discerned between the number of indigenous and endemic species richness to land area (Xla in 103 km2) of the nations in the region were, Yin = 218.961 Ln(Xla) – 843.1 (R2 = 0.735; P < 0.001) and Ye = 28.445 Ln Xla−134.47 (R2 = 0.534; P < 0.01), respectively, and between indigenous and endemic species richness was Ye = 0.079Xn− 1.558 (R2 = 0.235; P < 0.05).

The overall conservation status of endemic finfish in Asia was satisfactory in that only 92 species were in some state of vulnerability, of which 37 species (6.6%) are endangered or critically endangered. However, the bulk of these species (83.7%) were cave- and or lake-dwelling fish. However, nation-wise, the endemic freshwater finfish fauna of the Philippines and Sri Lanka, based on the imperilment index, were found to be in a highly vulnerable state. Among river basins, the Mekong Basin had the highest number of endemic species (31.3%). The discrepancies between databases are highlighted and the need to consolidate information among databases is discussed. It is suggested that the Mekong Basin be considered as a biodiversity hotspot, and appropriate management strategies be introduced in this regard.
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Keywords: Asia; conservation status; endemic species; habitats; native species richness; river basins

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Network of Aquaculture Centres in Asia-Pacific, PO Box 1040, Kasetsart Post Office, Bangkok 10903, Thailand

Publication date: 2007-03-01

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