Species richness, distribution pattern and habitat use of fishes in the Trans-Himalayas, India


Sivakumar, K.


Wildlife Institute of India, P.O. Box 18, Chandrabani, Dehradun 248 001, India



Abstract: The cold desert of Ladakh is a catchment of the Indus river, which contains three major sub-basins: the Indus, Shyok and Zanskar of the higher Himalayas. A survey on lotic water fishes was conducted between April and September 2001 and covered a wide altitude ranging from 2750 m to 5386 m above mean sea level. In total, 41 streams and six rivers were sampled. A total of 32 species of fishes were recorded in the streams and rivers of Ladakh landscape: of which, five were exotic species primarily confined to some sites in the Indus subcatchment. Species richness in the Indus subcatchment was higher (29 species) than other two catchments. The Zanskar (10 species) had the fewest species. The current distribution pattern of fish in the Ladakh indicates that this landscape is a transient zone between the palearctic and oriental realms. Fishes in the Trans-himalayas highly used the streams which have more algal growth on the substratum. Snowtrout Diptychus maculates, which occur in abundant in the Ladakh waters would be useful for fisheries.


Keywords: fish, snowtrout, Ladakh, Trans-Himalayas, stream fishes


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