, Volume 58, Issue 1, pp 243-253
Date: 17 Aug 2011

Freshwater fish diversity in Algeria with emphasis on alien species

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Abstract

Little is known about freshwater fish diversity in Algeria, especially after the broad national program of introduction of exotic species applied for over 20 years. This paper is an attempt to describe the current situation emphasizing the characteristics of the various introductions of non-autochthonous species, their current status and their possible impacts. The freshwater fish fauna of Algeria is composed of 48 species belonging to 15 families. Twenty-one species are autochthonous, of which, three are endemic (Haplochromis desfontainii, Aphanius saourensis, Aphanius apodus), two are endangered (H. desfontainii, Aphanius iberus), and one is critically endangered (Anguilla anguilla). Twenty-seven species were introduced, of which, 18 never became established and 9 are established. Four species are reported for the first time: Abramis brama, Aspius aspius, Carassius carassius, Perca fluviatilis. Since 1860, 303 introduction events have been recorded at almost 107 different sites in Algeria. The number of introduction events per site was between 1 and 10. Most of the introduced fish are found in Oubéïra Lake (seven species). Aquaculture development was the main reason for fish introductions (37.0%). The five most often introduced species were Cyprinus carpio (86 records), Hypophthalmichthys molitrix (65 records), Aristichthys nobilis (51 records), Oreochromis niloticus niloticus (33 records), and Ctenopharyngodon idella (18 records). Since the adverse effects of introduced fish are risky and demonstrated in several countries, the adoption of the precautionary principle is recommended when new introductions are planned. It is important, therefore, to adopt regulations and procedures which will minimize the risks arising from introductions.

Communicated by C. Gortázar