Ichthyofauna of the River Sava System

  • Simonović P
  • Povž M
  • Piria M
 et al. 
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On the survey of the recent records, the fish and lamprey fauna of the River Sava catchment consists of 74 species, 15 of which being considered alien. The indigenous species diversity, explained using the relation N = 0. 546 A 0.232, fits well into the range common for large catchments in Europe. Both taxonomic and ecological diversity, as well as the character of fish communities in streams and rivers, are strongly correlated with the stream order. On the relative abundance of species in fish communities, the upper rhithron fish communities cluster distinctly from those belonging to the middle rhithron, within which several subgroups of fish communities were distinguishable. Fish communities of the middle rhithron character in streams and small rivers stand distinctly apart from those belonging to particular sections of large rivers (e.g., the Rivers Sava, Drina, Vrbas, and Bosna), with the transitional type of middle rhithron fish community in larger rivers (e.g., those in the Rivers Una and Sana) that resemble more to the fish communities common in middle rhithron streams. Fish communities in the middle section of the River Sava in Croatia and in the bordering area with Bosnia and Herzegovina mainly belong to the lower rhithron, attaining the character of potamon in the most downstream, Serbian section. River Sava’s fish communities strongly interact with the ones occurring in the most downstream sections of their largest tributaries, e.g., the Rivers Una, Vrbas, Bosna, Drina, and Kolubara, which makes them very similar in structure in the areas of river mouths. Classification of fish communities based solely on the presence and absence of species revealed similar general pattern of fish community classification, though with the more sharp delimitation between those belonging to the upper and middle rhithron on one and to the lower rhithron and potamon on the other side. That was supported by the determination of fish communities belonging to the upper rhithron with brown trout Salmo cf. trutta, European bullhead Cottus gobio, and minnow Phoxinus phoxinus as the most common fish species. Fish communities belonging to the middle rhithron were determined mainly with chub Squalius cephalus and spirlin Alburnoides bipunctatus, whereas brook barbel Barbus balcanicus and stone loach Barbatula barbatula occurred in both upper rhithron and middle rhithron. Nase Chondrostoma nasus were associated with both middle and lower rhithron fish communities. The most common fish species that determine the lower rhithron fish communities were common bream Abramis brama, ide Idus idus, and bleak Alburnus alburnus, with the northern pike Esox lucius, Balon’s ruffe Gymnocephalus baloni, and racer goby Neogobius gymnotrachelus as significant species explaining fish communities of both lower rhithron and potamon. The level of production of fish in the River Sava varies remarkably within the sections with the similar ecological features, as well as between the sections that differ for the type of fish community. The greatest biomass and annual natural production were recorded in the sections homing the potamon and lower rhithron fish communities, especially in the flooding areas of side arms and oxbows which serve as spawning areas and nurseries. A total of 15 alien fish species was recorded in the River Sava catchment, the Prussian carp Carassius gibelio and brown bullhead Ameiurus nebulosus being assessed the most invasive in the areas with the potamon fish community. A strong impact from both long-term and recent stocking with alien hatchery-reared brown trout strains and rainbow trout in the upper rhithron fish communities was recently recognized. Mudminnow Umbra krameri and huchen (or Danube salmon) Hucho hucho are considered the two most threatened fish species of the River Sava catchment, where various types of riverbed modifications, especially the damming, were seen the most prominent threatening factors for fish diversity.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Community structure
  • Diversity
  • Fish fauna
  • Lamprey fauna
  • The River Sava Basin

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  • Predrag SimonovicUniverzitet u Beogradu Institut za bioloska istrazivanja Sinisa Stankovic

  • Marina PiriaUniversity of Zagreb Faculty of Agriculture

  • Metka Povž

  • Tomislav Treer

  • Avdul Adrović

  • Rifat Škrijelj

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