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

Ayhan Altun1 and Gülnaz Özcan1

 

1 İskenderun Technical University, Marine Sciences and Technology Faculty, Iskenderun, Hatay – Turkey; Tel: +90 533 540 36 57; E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

Abstract

Küçük Karaçay Stream is one of the important tributaries of the River Orontes (Asi) in Turkish boundaries. Previously seven species of fish have been reported to inhabit the stream. This article contributes to the addition of four species new for the ichthyofauna of the stream. Hence, with the addition of Liza abu, Gambusia affinis, Clarias gariepinus and Oxynoemacheilus argyrogramma the number has increased to 11 species reported from the stream so far. Endemism for the stream is high and five of 11 species occupying the stream are endemic to the Middle East. Among them, one species is endemic to the River Orontes. One of the new reports is exotic mosquitofish, Gambusia affinis. Prevention of the effects of an introduced fish on native species necessitates close monitoring. The conservation status of the species varies from least concerned (LC) to critically endangered (CR) according to IUCN red list criteria. The conservation plans and actions are considerably few for the stream. Only one species, Garra rufa, is under protection by a ban on fishing of the species. European eel, Anguilla anguilla is another inhabitant of the stream and receives a worldwide attention for protection. However, the conservation action even for this species has not been set up yet. Major threats concerning the stream are water abstraction and drought, and exotic species. Therefore further studies on the ichthyofauna of Küçük Karaçay are urgently needed to ascertain taxonomic and conservational status of the species and, to decide and implement action plans for protection.

Keywords: Ichthyofauna, fish biodiversity, conservation, endemic, Küçük Karaçay, Orontes.

 

Introduction

Origin and distribution of freshwater fishes, especially the endemics, have been attributed mainly to the geological history of the country. About 60 species are known as endemic in Turkish freshwaters (Özcan and Balık, 2008). Küçük Karaçay, a tributary of Orontes, is an important freshwater ecosystem for the endemic fishes of the Orontes River Basin. Küçük Karaçay Stream combines several creeks running down the Musa Mountain (Figure 1). It is 19 km long in total and situated at an altitude of around 138 m. There is a sand mine on it, close to the confluence with the River Orontes.

Although the ichthyofauna of Küçük Karaçay Stream has not been thoroughly studied so far, the presence of seven fish species in total were previously reported by Okur and Yalçın-Özdilek (2008) and Özcan (2013). Because of the absence of detailed study these two references offer limited information on the ichthyofauna of the Küçük Karaçay Stream system as well as the diversity of the ichthyofauna.

Data presented in this article were obtained collecting the samples in the field. Additionally, the reports of previous references were also used to cover all the species existing in the stream. Therefore this article offers the most detailed study carried out on the fishes of the Küçük Karaçay Stream thus far. The results are invaluable for further studies on fish composition and for monitoring the changes in fish biodiversity in the stream and, hence, the River Orontes.