Environment and fish fauna of the Atrai River: global and local conservation perspective - Journal of Fisheries

Journal of Fisheries
Volume 2 Issue 3 December 2014
Pages: 163-172

Environment and fish fauna of the Atrai River: global and local conservation perspective

Nipa Chaki1 • Sayka Jahan2 • Md. Foyzul Hassan Fahad1 • Shams Muhammad Galib1 • ABM Mohsin1

  1. Aquatic Biodiversity Lab, Department of Fisheries, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Rajshahi, Rajshahi-6205, Bangladesh
  2. Department of Environmental Science and Technology, Jessore University of Science and Technology, Jessore-7408, Bangladesh

Article type: Original article

DOI: dx.doi.org/10.17017/jfish.v2i3.2014.46

Manuscript history

  • Received on 14 Aug 2014
  • Received in revised form on 26 Oct 2014
  • Accepted on 10 Nov 2014
  • Published online on 11 Nov 2014

Correspondance
Shams Muhammad Galib,
Department of Fisheries, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Rajshahi
Email: thegalib@gmail.com

Citation
Chaki N, Jahan S, Fahad MFH, Galib SM and Mohsin ABM (2014) Environment and fish fauna of the Atrai River: Global and local conservation perspective. Journal of Fisheries 2(3): 163-172. DOI: dx.doi.org/10.17017/jfish.v2i3.2014.46

   
Table of contents
  > Abstract
> Introduction
> Methodology
> Results and discussions
> Conclusion
>
References
   
Abstract
The fish fauna of the Atrai River were studied for a period of two years from January 2011 to December 2012. Sampling was carried out by several fishing nets and traps on fortnight basis. A total of 74 fish species belonging to 27 families and 52 genera were recorded. Cyprinidae was the most dominant family contributing 18 species in 9 genera. Two alien species were found- Hypophthalmichthys molitrix and Hypostomus plecostomus. Thirty locally threatened species (Vulnerable 13.51%, Endangered 18.92% and Critically Endangered 8.11%) were recorded. But, no globally threatened species was found. Relative abundance of majority 36.49% species was rare. Global population trend of 24.32% recorded fish species was Declining. The highest number of species (42) was recorded in the November 2011. Whereas, the lowest the number of fish species (12) recorded in June and August 2011. Very high correlation was found between fish species and physical environmental parameters (air temperature, water temperature, and water transparency). This study concluded that Atrai River could be an excellent place for natural conservation of fish species. Nevertheless, efforts to maintain a sustainable fishing pressure, removal of existing alien species and avoiding further introduction of such species are recommended.
   
Keywords
Freshwater environment, Atrai River, fish diversity, fish conservation, population trend
 
[Top] [Table of contents]
Introduction

Bangladesh is a home to at least 265 freshwater fish species (Rahman 2005). Huge number of water bodies in various forms viz. pond, ditch, rivers, beels, haors, baors etc. support these large number of fish species. Atrai River is one of the major rivers in Bangladesh contributes a huge amount of fish to the people of the country. At present time, reduction in the abundance and fish species from the inland waters of Bangladesh is a burning issue in the country (Galib et al. 2009, Imteazzaman and Galib 2013). However, a total of 54 fish species of Bangladesh have been declared threatened by IUCN (IUCN Bangladesh 2000) but most of the wild populations have seriously declined in rivers and streams of Bangladesh due to over exploitation augmented by various ecological changes and degradation of the natural habitats (Galib et al. 2009, 2013a). All these findings clearly indicate the need for water body specific detailed biodiversity studies which is essential to assess the present status and for the sustainable management of a body of water (Galib et al. 2013a; Imteazzaman and Galib 2013). Though such type of research efforts are much common in neighbor countries like India (Dahanukar et al. 2012, Kharat et al. 2012, Baby et al. 2010, Jadhav et al. 2011, Patra 2011, Johnson and Arunachalam 2009, Heda 2009, Saha and Bordoloi 2009) but very few in Bangladesh. Environmental parameters are very important for organisms living in a habitat. But there is no study where relationships have been shown between environmental parameters and seasonal abundance of fish in Bangladesh.

To the best knowledge of the authors only one previous research work has been conducted on fish fauna of Atrai River between August 2005 and July 2006 (Joadder 2009). This effort becomes an old one and updated study is required to know the present status of fish. Moreover, in the study by Joadder (2009) fish species were recorded from different fish landing centers and markets adjacent to Atrai River which did not ensure the accuracy of the findings. Thus the present study was carried out with a view to preparing an updated checklist of fish species focusing their relative abundance in the Atrai River, global and national conservation status, and global population trend. Also, relationship between environmental parameters and availability of fishes was established in this research.
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Methodology

Study area and duration: The study was conducted at three points (site I: 88°56’ E and 24°38’ N; site II: 88°58’ E and 24°37’ N; site III: 89°01’ E and 24°35’ N) of the Atrai River under Atrai Upazila (sub-district) of Naogaon district, Bangladesh between (Figure 1). Fish were collected for two years on fortnight basis, from January 2011 to December 2012.

Figure 1: Sampling spots in the Atrai River
Figure 1: Sampling spots in the Atrai River

Sampling: Fish were caught by a variety of fishing nets (cast net, seine net, drag net, and lift net) and traps (locally called Kholsun, Britti and Dohair). All these fishing gears were operated with the help of professional fishermen.

Specimen preservation and identification: Fish were preserved in 5-7% buffered formalin and identified using following literatures- Rahman (1989 and 2005) and Talwar and Jhingran (1991). After identification, fish were classified following Nelson (2006). Collected fish were deposited at the Aquatic Biodiversity Lab, Department of Fisheries, University of Rajshahi, Rajshahi, Bangladesh.

Relative abundance of fish: To measure the relative abundance of fishes, we followed Jadhav et al. (2011) with slight modification i.e. abundant (76-100% of the total catch), common (51-75% of the total catch), moderate (26-50% of the total catch), low (11-25% of the total catch) and rare (1-10% of the total catch).

Global and local conservation status, and population trend: Global conservation status and population trend were detected following IUCN (2014); whereas following IUCN Bangladesh (2000), conservation status of recorded fish in Bangladesh was noted.

Study of aquatic environmental parameters: Important water quality parameters were measured using standard techniques to understand the state of aquatic environment. A HACH Kit Box (Model FF-2; USA) was used for the evaluation of dissolved oxygen (DO), free carbon dioxide, alkalinity, and pH. These parameters were measured according to Hach (1991). Air and water temperature was measured by means of a thermometer and a Secchi disc was used to measure the transparency level of water.

Data analysis: Statistical analyses were carried out using Microsoft Excel 2007 and Statistical Packages for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 15.00.
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Results and discussions
 

Fish species diversity: A total of 74 fish species have been recorded belonging to 27 families and 52 genera (Table 1). Cyprinidae was the most dominant family contributing 18 species in 9 genera. Image 1 represents some of the fish species collected from the Atrai River.

Number of recorded species (74) was found lower than that of the number of fish species by Joadder (2009) who recorded 78 fin fish species from the same river. However, almost all the common exotic aquaculture species of Bangladesh (Oreochromis mossambicus, O. niloticus, Hypophthalmichthys molitrix, Ctenopharyngodon idella, Cyprinus carpio communis, Cyprinus carpio specularis, Puntius gonionotus, and Clarias gariepinus) were recorded in his study, but did not found in the present study except H. molitrix. This variation is mostly due to difference in the way of conducting study. Joadder (2009) surveyed fish markets and landing centers where fishes from both the Atrai River and nearby aquaculture ponds are landed. Lower number of fish species (63) was recorded by Galib et al. (2013a) in the Choto Jamuna River, a tributary of the Atrai River reflecting that fishes were more abundant in the main stream of river. Sixty nine fish species were reported in the river Padma by Mohsin et al. (2013). In a coastal river, the Andharmanik, 54 species fish species were recorded by Mohsin et al. (2014). Galib et al. (2009) recorded 81 fish species in the Chalan Beel, the largest wetland of Bangladesh located in nearby areas of study areas.

Table 1: List of freshwater fishes from Atrai River
Table 1: List of freshwater fishes from Atrai River

Image 1: Some fishes of the Atrai River. Line below each species indicates scale of 1 cm (1) Colisa lalia, (2) Botia lohachata, (3) Chitala chitala, (4) Ailia coila, (5) Hemibagrus menoda, (6) Somileptus gongota, (7) Aplocheilus panchax, (8) Amblyceps mangois, (9) Channa orientalis, (10) Osteobrama cotio, (11) Hara hara, (12) Labeo calbasu, (13) Botia dario, (14) Mystus tengara, (15) Mastacembelus pancalus, (16) Channa striata, (17) Esomus danricus, (18) Mystus vittatus, (19) Nandus nandus, and (20) Labeo bata.
Image 1:
Some fishes of the Atrai River. Line below each species indicates scale of 1 cm (1) Colisa lalia, (2) Botia lohachata, (3) Chitala chitala, (4) Ailia coila, (5) Hemibagrus menoda, (6) Somileptus gongota, (7) Aplocheilus panchax, (8) Amblyceps mangois, (9) Channa orientalis, (10) Osteobrama cotio, (11) Hara hara, (12) Labeo calbasu, (13) Botia dario, (14) Mystus tengara, (15) Mastacembelus pancalus, (16) Channa striata, (17) Esomus danricus, (18) Mystus vittatus, (19) Nandus nandus, and (20) Labeo bata.

Conservation status and population trend: A total of 30 fish species have been recorded from the present study considered threatened by IUCN Bangladesh (2000). These fishes were belonging to following categories - Vulnerable 13.51%, Endangered 18.92% and Critically Endangered 8.11% (Figure 2) whereas the total number of threatened species in Bangladesh is 54 (IUCN Bangladesh 2000). Of the total recorded species, 2.70% were exotic or introduced species in Bangladesh; these were H. molitrix and Hypostomus plecostomus.

Among the two alien species recorded, H. molitrix was introduced in Bangladesh for the purpose of aquaculture in 1969 from Hong Kong (Galib and Mohsin 2011, Rahman 2007). It is speculated that this popular aquaculture species has already been established itself into the natural waters of Bangladesh (Rahman 2007) and the present record indicates justification of such assumption. This species is commonly found all over the country and also a popular species not only in aquaculture ponds but also in integrated fish culture in rice fields (Galib et al. 2013b). However, this was not the first record of H. molitrix in the natural waters of Bangladesh. This species is also found in the Andharmanik River (Mohsin et al. 2014), Bookbhara Baor (Mohsin et al. 2009), Chalan Beel (Galib et al. 2009), Choto Jamuna River (Galib et al. 2013a), Halti Beel (Imteazzaman and Galib 2013), Padma River (Mohsin et al. 2013).

Conservation status of recorded fishes in Bangladesh
Figure 2: Conservation status of recorded fishes in Bangladesh

It is believed that during heavy flood this species has been escaped from adjacent culture ponds into Atrai River. It is essential to monitor the status of exotic fishes continuously to commence appropriate management steps in time. Similar comments were also made by Imteazzaman and Galib (2013) and Galib et al. (2013a) while working in a beel (wetland) and a river adjacent to the River Atrai.

H. plecostomus, a common aquarium fish species of Bangladesh (Galib and Mohsin 2010, Galib et al. 2013c) was also found to be established in the Atrai River. Nowadays, occurrence of small to large H. plecostomus in the catch of fishermen was common, especially during dry season. Like H. molitrix this record of H. plecostomus in nature was not the first in Bangladesh; prior to this study this species was also reported from several lakes and ponds of the country where they establish themselves like other native population through natural breeding (Galib and Mohsin 2010, Rahman 2007).

Global conservation status of the fishes is shown in Figure 3. Majority fishes were belonging to Least Concern category (82.43%) followed by Near Threatened (10.81%) and so on.

Figure 3: Global conservation status of fishes of the Atrai River
Figure 3: Global conservation status of fishes of the Atrai River

Based on the database of IUCN (2014), the global population trend of recorded fish species is presented in Figure 4. According to database, population trend of majority of the fishes (58.11%) recorded in the present study was Unknown. Almost one-fourth (24.32%) of the fishes were belonging to the Decreasing category.

Figure 4: Global population trend of fishes of the Atrai River
Figure 4: Global population trend of fishes of the Atrai River

Relative and seasonal abundance of fish species: Of the total 74 species, relative abundance of majority of the fishes (36.49%) was recorded as Rare (Table 1, Figure 5). Relative abundance of the fishes reflects the current scenario of fishes in open water bodies of Bangladesh. Because due to several causes like overfishing, fishing by illegal gears, and indiscriminate fishing of fry to brood fish have led abundance of indigenous fish population at stake. The present findings might be of help to implement appropriate conservation management in time. Status of majority of the fishes (27%) was common in the Chalan Beel, and only 9% of the species were rare (Galib et al. 2009).

Several fish population including loaches (Cobitidae), Gouramies (Osphronemidae), Sisorid catfishes (Sisoridae) were declining in the study area and rapid conservation of these fish species is essential. Similar findings also reported by Mohsin et al. (2014). They have found that Gourami population was in similar condition in the Andharmanik River in Patuakhali district.


Figure 5: Relative abundance of fishes in the Atrai River

Seasonal abundance of fishes in the river Atrai is shown in Figure 6. The highest number of species (42) was recorded in the November 2011. Whereas, the lowest the number of fish species (12) recorded in June and August 2011.

Figure 6: Seasonal abundance of fishes in the Atrai River
Figure 6: Seasonal abundance of fishes in the Atrai River

In a tidal river, the Andharmanik, Mohsin et al. (2014) reported quite similar findings; they have recorded the highest number of fish species (45) in the month of November whereas minimum 19 fish species was found in May. In the river Padma, a far greater number of fish species (67) has been reported by Mohsin et al. (2013) in the months of May, June, August, September, and December.

State of aquatic environment: There was a minor difference between air and water temperature (Table 2). The highest air temperature (33.15±0.87 °C) was recorded in the month of August 2012; whereas, the lowest air temperature (17.20±3.53 °C) was in December 2012. Mean air temperature was 23.92±4.20 °C. On the other hand, the highest and lowest water temperature were recorded in the month of October 2012 (30.90±0.50 °C) and December 2012 (17.20±2.27 °C) respectively. Water transparency changed in course of time. The highest transparency was found 36.40±3.52 cm in September 2011 and the lowest value of water transparency was recorded 14.90±3.42 cm in January 2012 (Table 2).

The physical condition of water is greatly influenced with all these factors; these are the determinant of the productivity of any aquatic habitat. Mean water temperature (24.73±4.31 °C) was favorable for almost all the fishes in the temperate zone (Rath 2000). Water transparency was found suitable for primary productivity as Rahman (1992) mentioned that less than 40 cm water transparency is favorable for enhancing the primary productivity of a water body.

The highest pH (8.10±0.29) was measured in December 2012. Whereas, the lowest pH was found 6.75±0.22 (March 2012). Dissolved oxygen level reached its peak (9.57±0.56 mg/l) in the month of September 2012 and downed to the lowest level (4.83±0.29 mg/l) in January 2011 (Table 2). The lowest free CO2 was recorded 13.10±0.98 mg/l in August 2011 and the highest value (16.30±1.82 mg/l) was recorded in May 2012. The highest and the lowest alkalinity values were found as 149.20±18.02 mg/l (April 2012) and 85.68±16.42 mg/l (September 2012) respectively (Table 2).

pH was found to be varied between suitable range (6.5-8.5) for fish, as per FAO (1997). Rath (2000) also made similar comment. Rahman et al. (2006) recorded pH of 7.55-8.03 in the Rajdhala Beel which are very close to the values determined in the present study. Similar results were also recorded by other researchers (Hossain et al. 1997, Saha and Hossain 2002). Mean dissolved oxygen content (7.25±1.39 mg/l) can be considered good for growth of fish species (Rath 2000). Mean alkalinity (114.37±20.41 mg/l) was in suitable range for water productivity. Rath (2000) reported that calcareous water with alkalinity more than 50 mg/l is most productive. Alikunhi (1957) has reported that for a highly productive water body the alkalinity would be over 100 mg/l.

Table 2: State of aquatic environmental parameters (mean±SD) during the period of study
Table 2: State of aquatic environmental parameters (mean±SD) during the period of study

Relationship between environmental parameters and seasonal abundance of fishes: Table 3 shows the correlation between seasonal abundance of fishes and environmental parameters. Very high correlation was found between fish species and physical environmental parameters (air temperature, water temperature, and water transparency). No previous study was found to be conducted on the Atrai River where relationship between fish and environmental parameters was established, so it is not possible to compare present findings with the previous one.

Table 3: Correlation among seasonal abundance of fish and environmental parameters (Pearson correlation)
Table 3: Correlation among seasonal abundance of fish and environmental parameters (Pearson correlation)

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Conclusion
 
In conclusion, still there was a rich diversity of fishes in the Atrai River, though anthropogenic effects were much higher especially fishing pressure. The fish fauna were less threatened by alien fish species, though two exotic fish species were recorded. A major part of the total fishes were considered threatened species in Bangladesh. Environmental parameters were also more or less suitable for aquatic species. Thus, the Atrai River can be considered a refuge for conservation of threatened freshwater fishes of Bangladesh. The conservation efforts should ensure that the current status of fish fauna is maintained by minimizing anthropogenic impacts, especially the fishing pressure and introduction of alien invasive species.
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References
 

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