Contribution to the Ichthyofauna of Küçük Karaçay Stream, Hatay/Turkey - page 01

Materials and Methods

Being 19 km long, the Küçük Karaçay Stream is made up of several creeks running into the stream. One of them is Bulanık Creek on which an artificial reservoir called Karamanlı Göleti built in 2000. The flow rate of the stream is considerably high when comparing the four water resources (Karasu, Afrin, Büyük Karaçay ve Küçük Karaçay) contributing to the Orontes within Turkish boundaries.

The specimens of this study were obtained from two locations, 360 08' 10" N - 360 04' 30" E and 360 09' 28" N - 360 01' 27" E , on Küçük Karaçay Stream between May 2012 and April 2013. They were caught using gill nets and cast nets with mesh sizes of 18-55 mm and 12-22 mm, respectively, and via electro-fishing with SAMUS 725 MP portable electro fishing gear.


Figure 1: Map of the study area, Küçük Karaçay Stream.




The samples were preserved in 4% formaldehyde solution and deposited at the MSM collection (Marine Sciences and Technology Faculty, İskenderun Technical University, Turkey) within the collection of Dr. G. Özcan. Color characteristics of fish were examined on fresh specimens. Meristic characteristics (number of fin rays, lateral line scales, gill rakers and pharyngeal teeth) were counted and metric characters such as total length (TL), standard length (SL), fork length (FL), head length (HL) and interorbital distance (ID) were measured as a necessary requirement for the identification of genus, species and subspecies of specimens.



During the period of this study 643 fish were caught and examined accordingly. The examination of the specimens has confirmed that the stream has been inhabited by 11 fish species belonging to seven families (Table 1). The family Cyprinidae has the highest species number with four species, namely Capoeta barroisi Lortet, 1894, Capoeta damascina (Valenciennes, 1842), Carasobarbus luteus (Heckel, 1843) and Garra rufa (Heckel, 1843). Nemacheilidae is the second family with two species: Oxynoemacheilus argyrogramma (Heckel, 1847) and Oxynoemacheilus tigris (Heckel, 1843). The remaining five families have been represented with only one species for each. These families and species are Anguillidae: Anguilla anguilla (Linnaeus, 1758); Cobitidae: Cobitis levantina Krupp & Moubayed, 1992; Mugilidae: Liza abu (Heckel, 1843); Poeciliidae: Gambusia affinis (Baird & Girard, 1853) and Clariidae: Clarias gariepinus (Burchell, 1822). An increase in the number of species being reported from the stream indicates that this freshwater ecosystems has higher biodiversity than it was reported previously and, therefore, deserves further and more detailed studies on its species.

Among the fishes identified, four species (L. abu, G. affinis, C. gariepinus and O. argyrogramma) are newly recorded for the stream.

Species identification of the specimens showed that endemism is considerably high for the stream. Out of 11, one species, C. levantina is endemic for the Orontes River. Besides, four species i.e., C. barroisi, G. rufa, O. argyrogramma and L. abu are endemic species of the Middle East. Hence, the endemism for the stream is considerably high with about 45.4% and Küçük Karaçay is an important freshwater ecosystem which nests around 10% of the endemic fishes of the Orontes River Basin.

Additionally one exotic fish species, G. affinis, has recently gained its place in the ichthyofauna of the stream. Here, the presence of this alien fish in Küçük Karaçay Stream is also being reported for the first time.

Aforementioned fishes are classified under three conservation categories (Table 1.) e.i., Critically Endangered (CR), Endangered (EN) and Least Concerned (LC) in the red list catalogue of IUCN, (2014). There are two CR species; A. anguilla (CR-A2bd+4bd) and O. tigris (CR-B1ab(i,ii,iii,iv,v) +2ab(i,ii,iii,iv,v)). Two species i.e., C. levantina and C. barroisi are EN and are under B1ab(i,ii,iii,iv,v)+2ab(i,ii,iii,iv,v) and B2ab(i,ii,iii,iv) endangerment categories, respectively. The remaining seven species, C. damascina, L. abu, G. affinis, C. gariepinus, C. luteus, G. rufa and O. argyrogramma are listed under LC categories according to the red list catalogue of IUCN (2014).