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Habitat selectivity of fresh water fishes of two second-order tropical streams in Tigray, Northern Ethiopia

  • Tesfay, Solomon (Department of Biology, College of Natural and Computational Sciences, Mekelle University) ;
  • Teferi, Mekonen (Department of Biology, College of Natural and Computational Sciences, Mekelle University) ;
  • Tsegazeabe, Haileselasie Hadush (Department of Biology, College of Natural and Computational Sciences, Mekelle University)
  • Received : 2018.06.13
  • Accepted : 2019.03.01
  • Published : 2019.03.31

Abstract

Background: Habitat selectivity and ecology of freshwater fishes were studied in two selected streams and their junction point which consist a total of 39 microhabitats. The aims of this study were to describe the habitat preference and its availability to fish assemblage, as well as ecology, habitat use, and habitat characteristics. Methods: We collected fish with backpack electrofishing three times during August 2013, December 2013, and March 2014. Using a variation partitioning approach of R software, we studied the relationship of fish abundances with stream type, habitat type, and abundance of key macroinvertebrate taxa. Results: A total of 6554 fishes representing four species belonging to the family Cyprinidae were caught. A higher total fish abundance was recorded from Gereb Tsedo (4870; 74.3%) than from Elala stream (1684; 25.7%). Taking both streams together, the overall total relative fish abundance was significantly higher in pools (53%) than in runs (35%) and in riffles (12%) at P < 0.05. Species-wise comparisons showed that 71%, 15%, 13%, and 1% of the pool fish community were occupied by Garra blanfordii, Garra ignestii, Garra dembecha, and Garra aethiopica, respectively. Stream type, habitat type, and key macroinvertebrate taxa each explained a significant proportion of the variation in fish abundance. Based on the variation partitioning approach, fish abundance was higher in Gereb Tsedo stream (P < 0.01). Moreover, fish abundance increased with pool habitat type (P < 0.01) and with availability of key macroinvertebrate taxa (P < 0.01). Conclusion: Fish abundance differed between stream types, among habitats and among key macroinvertebrate taxa availability. Among the factors, habitat type was the most important driving factor behind variation among fish abundances, and pool supports the highest fish abundance.

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