Assessing lake typologies and indicator fish species for Italian natural lakes using past fish richness and assemblages
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In order to establish a fish-based typology of Italian lakes and identify possible reference and indicator fish species for each lake type, we analysed historical data on fish assemblages of all Italian natural lakes >0.5 km2 from the period prior to the major decline in water quality in the 1950s. General linear regression models showed the ecoregion and lake altitude being the best predictors of fish species richness. The number of species was significantly higher in the Alpine than in the Mediterranean ecoregion. Among Alpine lakes, the number of fish species increased significantly with lake volume whilst decreased with altitude. In the Mediterranean lakes, none of the selected parameters was significant. Cluster analysis of fish assemblages (presence/absence) divided the lakes of the Alpine and Mediterranean ecoregions into four and two types, respectively. Pike (Esox lucius), rudd (Scardinius erythrophthalmus) and tench (Tinca tinca) were the main indicator species for the small and mostly shallow lakes in both the Alpine (Type 1) and Mediterranean (Type 6) ecoregions, minnow (Phoxinus phoxinus) for the alpine high altitude lakes (Type 2) and landlocked shad (Alosa fallax lacustris), European whitefish (Coregonus lavaretus) and burbot (Lota lota) for the large and very deep alpine lakes (Type 4). The European whitefish was the only indicator species for the deep Mediterranean lakes (Type 5). These species and associated fish assemblages may be useful indicators in future assessments of the ecological status of Italian lakes according to the European Directives (2000/60/EC and 2008/105/EC).
KeywordsFish fauna Biodiversity Bioindicators Reference conditions Biomonitoring Pollutants
P. Volta (PV) and E. Jeppesen (EJ) were partially funded by the EU-FP7 WISER project; PV also by LIFE+ INHABIT and CIPAIS (Commissione Internazionale per la Protezione delle Acque Italo-Svizzere), and EJ also by EU-FP7 REFRESH, CRES and The Danish Council for Independent Research: Natural Sciences (272-08-0406). We thank Anne Mette Poulsen for most valuable editorial comments and the two anonymous referees for the valuable comments which improved the manuscript importantly.
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