Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Cyprus: Fish conservation science

After working in the field in Cyprus for freshwater fish research since 2009 my colleagues and I feel it is time to do more writing. We will not do field work in rivers this summer. We are not yet satisfied with our knowledge but we have amassed an amazing amount of data about the fishes and their habitats. A lot of this is pioneering work, some examples:

- Describing the fish assemblages in rivers and linking these with instream and riparian habitats
- Using fishes as indicators of stream ecological integrity
- Exploring the impacts of anthropogenic change on the fishes, especially the impacts of dams
- Genetic and other work on the native Mediterranean Toothcarps and their parasites
- Discovery of the impacts of DDT on the aquatic biota
- Exploration, inventory and taxonomy of the aquatic habitat types, and especially the wetlands
- Work on the status of the Eel and what this species meant to the people of Cyprus
- Investigating the status and alleged extinction of the local River Blenny population
- Proposals for conservation, monitoring and restoring fish populations.

I feel privileged to be a part of a network of people working on producing scientific articles on this work. Of course this takes a long time and a lot of pain. No-one who does not write papers, can understand this.

I want to first say thanks to the many people associated in this linking-of-minds. Much of this work in not-paid for but is an important obligation - and we also gain great joy from writing! Some of the writing we hope will affect conservation on Cyprus!

One of our recent maps, this one crafted by my friend Nikolaos Koutsikos. It shows the 170 sites where we have sampled fish: the black dots indicate that the sites had fish present, the white were fishless. The basins that hosted these sites are 31 and these are shaded grey. The District of Limassol (Lemessos) is outlined to show the area where the now-presumably extinct River Blenny was found 100 years ago. 

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