Assemblage structure of stream fishes in the Western Ghats (India)

Abstract

Macro and microhabitat analyses were applied to characterise the fish assemblage structure in 10 streams of the Western Ghat mountains of Peninsular India. Macrohabitat features, such as channel gradient, stream depth, stream width, riparian cover, instream cover, habitat types and substrates, were used. Microhabitat requirements of the abundant cyprinids (35 species) were also analysed. Macrohabitat assessment indicated that a high habitat diversity was associated with a high species diversity, and that habitat volume was a major determining factor for species diversity and abundance. In all streams, cyprinids were the dominant group in the assemblage and almost all cyprinids were confined to pools with a varied habitat diversity. Riffle dwelling species included ancient forms such as Glyptothorax madraspatnum, G. trewasae and Homaloptera santhamparaiensis. Suitable microhabitats for dominant cyprinid species were pools and riffle edges. Big-sized barbs and mahseers such as Hypselobarbus dobsoni, H. curmuca, H. dubius, Labeo calbasu, Puntius sarana, Tor khudree and Tor khudree malabaricus were confined to deep pools with a large area. Smaller Puntius species like P. fasciatus, P. melanampyx, P. narayani, P. sophore, P. ticto and P. vittatus lived in shallow backwater pools and pools with low flow. Species like P. arulius tambiraparniei, P. amphibius, P. bimaculatus and P. filamentosus were found towards shallow pools with moderate flow. Surface-dwelling species such as Danio aequipinnatus, Rasbora daniconius, Salmostoma spp. and Barilius spp. preferred deepwater habitats with high flow. Habitat-based multivariate analysis revealed four guilds: surface dwellers, column dwellers, generalized bottom dwellers and specialized bottom dwellers.

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Arunachalam, M. Assemblage structure of stream fishes in the Western Ghats (India). Hydrobiologia 430, 1–31 (2000). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1004080829388

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  • habitat diversity
  • fish assemblage structure
  • habitat requirement
  • macro and microhabitat approaches
  • habitat suitability
  • cyprinids