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Alien fish species in Indian inland wetlands: current status and future challenges

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Abstract

Although wetlands are well-recognized for their biological, ecological, cultural, hydrological, recreational, socio-economic and educational values, still they are facing severe anthropogenic pressure in the form of habitat destruction, pollution, overexploitation of resources and the invasion of alien species. India is bestowed with several natural and man-made wetlands which support rich aquatic biodiversity with high degree of endemism, especially fish diversity. Zoological Survey of India reported that, inland wetlands alone support 1027 species of fishes with more biological, nutritional and economic values. However, for the past three centuries Indian wetlands are witnessing continuous introduction of exotic fishes. According to available reports, 31 aquaculture species, 600 ornamental varieties and 2 species of larvicidal fish have been introduced. Surfacing reports confirmed that among the introduced fishes nearly 55 fish species established a sustainable reproductive population in several inland wetlands (i.e. wild) including in the biodiversity hotspots. Among the 55 the National Biodiversity Authority of India has declared 14 species as invasive. Though, there are no comprehensive studies available in India about the impacts of invasive alien species on its ecosystem and food security. In addition, researchers are of the opinion that the ongoing climate change, river linking projects, Genetically Improved Farmed Tilapia (GIFT) project and ornamental trade will exacerbate the invasive issues in future. India is thus in a position to develop new robust policy and research guidelines on the exotic species issues. Cooperation among different stakeholders and common public is the need of the hour, else India will lose its unique aquatic diversity and also face huge socio-economic problems.

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Acknowledgements

I thank Dr S. Muthukumar, S4 Carlisle Publishing Services, Chennai, India for his inputs to improve the manuscript. I wish to express my sincere thanks to my student Dr. Sathish Sundar Dhilip Kumar who always provides me adequate references for this research work.

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Sandilyan, S. Alien fish species in Indian inland wetlands: current status and future challenges. Wetlands Ecol Manage 30, 423–437 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11273-022-09870-8

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