Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 65, Issue 3, pp 327–339 | Cite as

An Analysis of Fish Species Richness in Natural Lakes

  • Upali S. Amarasinghe
  • Robin L. WelcommeEmail author


There is a growing recognition of the need to conserve biodiversity that has been conceptualised in the Convention of Biological Diversity. Maintenance of fish species richness is particularly important, because habitat degradation in inland waters continues to accelerate on a global scale. Here we develop empirical models for predicting fish species richness in natural lakes in various geographical regions of the world. In tropical lakes where fish biodiversity is richer than in temperate lakes, fish species richness can be predicted by a few variables such as lake area and altitude. Low fish species richness in most temperate lakes might be due to the effect of glaciation on colonisation and speciation of fishes. In US, Canadian and northern European lakes, lake acidification is one of the important factors influencing fish species richness. Although limnological characteristics influence fish species richness in temperate lakes, lake area and altitude have greater predictive power. This is in contrast to fish species richness in rivers, which can be reliably predicted by basin area. In the power curves, which describe the relationship between fish species richness and habitat size in lakes and rivers, the exponent is always greater in tropical regions than in temperate regions. Because fish biodiversity is greater in the tropics threats to fish biodiversity through habitat degradation are greater than those in temperate inland waters.

biological diversity conservation empirical models fish assemblages fish biodiversity inland waters species-area relationships temperate lakes tropical lakes 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity of KelaniyaKelaniyaSri Lanka
  2. 2.Renewable Resource Assessment Group, RSM Building, T.H. Huxley School of Environment, Imperial College of Science, Technology and MedicineUniversity of LondonLondonU.K.

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