Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries

, Volume 23, Issue 1, pp 1–22 | Cite as

Towards the conservation of freshwater fish: Iberian Rivers as an example of threats and management practices

  • Alberto Maceda-VeigaEmail author


The current freshwater fish fauna crisis is such that natural resource managers urgently need to identify priorities and understand the management consequences of actions aimed at maximizing the preservation of biodiversity. Freshwater research is often poorly linked to conservation ecology; and interdisciplinary studies illustrating examples of freshwater ecosystem conservation are scarce. The Iberian Peninsula has a long history of anthropogenic disturbance that has led to the poor conservation status of its ichthyofauna, with 52 % of species now catalogued as critically endangered, endangered or vulnerable, according to UICN criteria. This paper gives an overview of the main threats (habitat degradation, hydrological alterations and exotic species) that have altered the function and connectivity of Iberian rivers. Case-study examples are provided to analyse the repercussions of these threats and the management actions planned or already performed in these systems. The interaction of many threats is responsible for native fish decline. However, freshwater managers and researchers should not let the trees prevent them from seeing the overall wood, when seeking to achieve practical solutions with the best balanced cost benefit and the collaboration of all ecosystem researchers and stakeholders. Conservation efforts should be focused on the preservation of ecological processes, in order to achieve the goals of the Water Framework Directive and guarantee the conservation of Iberian native fish species.


Aquatic conservation Management actions Endangered fish Freshwater Anthropogenic modifications 



The author dedicates this manuscript to his parents and thanks all those with whom he has had the opportunity to learn and talk about the conservation of freshwater fish in Iberia, in particular Adolfo de Sostoa, Ignacio Doadrio, Carlos Fernández-Delgado, Jacint Nadal, Dolors Vinyoles, Emili García-Berthou, Narcís Prat, Josep Escribano-Alacid, Silvia Perea, Mario Monroy and the team of Forest Guards at Caspe (Aragón). The career of AMV was supported by grants from “Xarxa de Referència en Aqüicultura de la Generalitat de Catalunya” (Xraq), Catalan Water Agency, Ebro Water Confederation, Spanish Government and the Department of Animal Biology at the University of Barcelona. The author also thanked four anonymous referees for their constructive review.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Animal Biology (Vertebrates) and Research Institute of Biodiversity (IRBio), Faculty of BiologyUniversity of BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain

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