Annual dynamics of the abundance of fish larvae and its relationship with hydrological variation in the Pearl River
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We studied daily periodicity, taxonomic composition and annual variation of fish larvae abundance from a survey of the Zhaoqing section of the Pearl River over a 3-year period, 2006–2008, and collected 52 species, in eight families and 16 orders. The fish larval samples were numerically dominated by six species, Barbel Chub (Squaliobarbus curriculus) 33.1%, Black Guangdong Bream (Megalobrama hoffmanni) 20.6%, Yellowfin (Xenocypris argentea) 15.4%, Mud Carp (Cirrhina molitorella) 10%, Common Sawbelly (Hemiculter leucisculus) 4.3%, and Freshwater Bream (Parabramis pekinensis) 3.1%. These six species accounted for 86.5% of total numbers. Black Carp (Mylopharyngodon piceus), Grass Carp (Ctenopharyngodon idellus), Silver Carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix) and Bighead Carp (Aristichthys nobilis) are four of the most economically important fish species in China, and accounted for approximately 4.6% of the total. When compared with historical records from 1931, there are obvious changes in the fish larvae community. Chinese Sturgeon (Acipenser sinensis), Seasonal Shad (Macrura reevesi) and Long Spiky-head Carp (Luciobrama macrocephalus) populations have disappeared and there are also decreases in several other economically important fish populations. We observed a delay in spawning time of Black Carp, Grass Carp, Silver Carp and Bighead Carp, which may be the result of the hydrological regime change in the Pearl River. We used canonical correspondence analysis (CCA) and cross-covariance function (CCF) to analyze the relationship between fish larvae and environmental variables. Our results clearly show that discharge affects the majority of fish larvae, with the various species having different responses. Larval abundances of 15 species such as Black Carp, Grass Carp, Silver Carp, Bighead Carp, Mud Carp and Black Guangdong Bream are significantly and positively related to the discharge. Other species such as Chinese Noodlefish (Leucosoma chinensis) and Rhinogobius olivaceus are negatively related to the discharge. Abundances of larval Mosquitofish (Gambusia affinis), Common Carp (Cyprinus carpio) and Eleotris oxycephala were not related to the discharge. As most economic fish species are affected by discharge, we also conclude that changes of hydrological regime, mainly caused by river damming, will result in the decline of fisheries resources in the Pearl River. The findings of this study have important implications for our ability to model the responses of fish larvae to environmental flows for the purpose of river regulation.
KeywordsPearl River Fish larvae Hydrological variation Abundance
This study was carried out with the participation of the Zhaoqing Detachment, Guangdong Fishing Administrative Brigade, and supported by Science and Technology Item of China (No. 2005DIB3J023) and Natural Science Foundation of Guangdong Province (No. 5004163). We also thank Corina Monagin for kindly review and modifications to the manuscript.
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