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An assessment of fish species assemblages in rice fields in West Bengal, India: implications for management

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Summary

Wetlands such as rice fields and associated canals are congenial habitats for different fishes and provide the foundation of rice-fish culture. The selection of suitable fish species determines the success for this linkage of aquaculture and agriculture. An assessment of fish assemblages in selected rice fields and associated canals in West Bengal, India documented the candidate species for culture and conservation in rice fields. Indigenous minnow traps made of bamboo were employed in the rice fields and canals for a period of 3 months, to collect and record the fish abundance. A total of 531 fishes representing 19 different species were caught from the rice fields in 30 sampling efforts. From the canals, 13 different fish species totaling 676 fishes were collected in 80 sampling efforts. The fish collected per trap in the rice fields (mean 17.7 ± 1.97 SE) remained significantly different (t = 4.461, df = 112; P < 0.001) from those of the canals (mean 8.05 ± 1.09 SE). Diversity indices ranged between 1.91 and 2.01, with a 53% similarity between the rice fields and canals. Among the fish species collected, Badis badis, Colisa fasciatus and C. lalia exhibited high abundance; the two species Heteropneustes fossilis and Mystus vittatus established as threatened fish categories, showed low abundance. The fish species collected were important as food resources and the ornamental fish trade, and many of them bear potential in regulating mosquitoes in the rice fields. These fish assemblages in the rice fields and associated canals suggest a rice-fish culture potential for integrating food and health.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Zoology, The University of Burdwan, Golapbag, Burdwan 2: Department of Zoology, University of Calcutta, Kolkata, India

Publication date: August 1, 2010

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