Conservation biology and management of the Twee River redfin, Barbus erubescens (Pisces :|bCyprinide)

Marriott, Michael Stephen (1999) Conservation biology and management of the Twee River redfin, Barbus erubescens (Pisces :|bCyprinide). Masters thesis, Rhodes University.

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Abstract

Agricultural practices and increasing levels of pollution, water abstraction and numbers of predatory exotic fishes gave rise to mounting concern for the survival of the already endangered Twee River redfin, Barbus erubescens. Numbers were believed to be dwindling and an urgent re-assessment of the species' conservation status and major threats was called for. Distribution and estimated numbers of B. erubescens were detennined from a census conducted in the Twee River catclunent, and baseline knowledge of age and growth, reproduction, diet and habitat preferences was gained from biological work on collected specimens. Such understanding was necessary to formullate management ideas. Although an estimated 40% reduction in area of occupancy has occurred in the middle reaches of the Twee River system, the known distribution of B. erubescens was extended into the upper Suurvlei River. Despite fragmentation, surviving redfin populations remained healthy and total population size was estimated at 8400 individuals, 4100 of which were considered mature .. Adults preferred pools with water exceeding 1 m in depth and tended to be associated with sandy or boulder substrates. Due to low numbers no such study was conducted on juveniles, although observations indicated a preference for the upper 50 em of the water column, in or around marginal vegetation. 13arbus erubescens spawn in summer and follow an asynchronous, iteroparous pattern. Males and females reach a maximum age of six years, maturing after two years at calculated SL of 45 mm in males and 42 mm in females. The diet was dominated by simulid and ephemeropteran larvae. Although the combined pressures of pesticide and fertiliser use, predation and competition from exotic species have undoubtedly had a negative impact on B. enibescens, the species has maintained viable populations. With continued expansion of these threats the focus of conservation attention may change but, at present, it is most likely agricultural water use, amounting to 7.43 x 106 m\-l, 15% of the entire catchment production, which poses the greatest irnrrediate threat to the survival of the species. Based on a deteriorating habitat and restricted area of occupancy, B. erubescens was rated Critically Endangered, and it is recommended that a conservation management plan be implemented in the Twee River catchment. The focus of such action should be on genetic preservation, with immediate projects including gamete cryopreservation and captive breeding and rearing progranunes. Catchment management, including education and rehabilitation programmes, must be the long-term aim of conservation, to ensure the survival ofB. eruhescens.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Barbus, Cyprinidae, South Africa
Subjects:Q Science > QL Zoology > Chordates. Vertebrates > Fishes
S Agriculture > SH Aquaculture. Fisheries. Angling
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Science > Ichthyology & Fisheries Science
ID Code:2821
Deposited By: Mrs Carol Perold
Deposited On:21 May 2012 09:58
Last Modified:21 May 2012 09:58
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