Invasion of an exotic fish - common carp, Cyprinus carpio L. (Actinopterygii: Cypriniformes: Cyprinidae) in the Ganga River, India and its impacts
Background. The Ganga River (Ganges) is known of its rich fish diversity which is adversely affected by degrading environmental and ecological conditions. There are more than 300 exotic fish species in India. Many of them (particularly Cyprinus carpio) escaped from confinement and are now present in the Ganga River, challenging its ecological equilibrium. The aim of this project was to study the population characteristics of Cyprinus carpio (i.e., the abundance, size range, food and feeding, gonado-somatic index (GSI), gonad maturity stage, maturity and breeding) and the altered fishery dynamics. Materials and Methods. The commercially caught fishes, including the exotic ones, were identified, examined and measured. Important indices such as: the abundance index of exotic fishes, the gonado-somatic index (IG), as well as the gonad maturity stage of the escapee C. carpio were determined. The gut content was also analyzed to identify food items and thereafter the food richness, diet breadth, and gut repletion index (GRI%) were calculated using the Simpson’s diversity index. Results. C. carpio introduced about sixty years ago for aquaculture has now been found to invade into the Ganga, the largest river of the country contributing significantly to the fishery. The abundance index of C. carpio ranged from 12.2% to 45.5 % in 250 km long river stretch of the Ganga River flowing along Kanpur to Varanasi in the state of Uttar Pradesh. The gut content analysis revealed the presence of Eichhornia (9.8%), Pistia (11.6%), Nymphaea (8.5%), annelids worms (7.8%), algae (20.2%), mud and detritus (14.8%). The calculated diet breadth ranged from 0.82% to 0.91%; food richness ranged from 12 to 16, and the gut repletion index (GRI%) was 100% at different sampling sites. Mature females represented all the six reproductive stages with varying gonadosomatic index (IG) (0.5 to 30) in different catches. Presence of spent, ripe, and mature females was recorded. Conclusion. Abundance of exotic fish primarily C. carpio and Oreochromis niloticus in the fishery of the Ganga River was observed. The gonado-somatic index (IG) and the presence of all the six gonadal stages confirmed that C. carpio established its breeding population. The dominant catch of exotic fishes negatively impacted on the important indigenous fishes particularly Indian major carps (Catla catla, Labeo rohita, and Cirrhinus mrigala). The change in dynamics of the fishery due to the presence of common carp attracted attention to conserve rich indigenous germplasm facing threats of shifting from their natural habitats.
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