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The legendary hump-back mahseer Tor sp. of India’s River Cauvery: an endemic fish swimming towards extinction?

Pinder, A. C., Raghavan, R and Britton, J.R., 2015. The legendary hump-back mahseer Tor sp. of India’s River Cauvery: an endemic fish swimming towards extinction? Endangered Species research, 28, 11-17.

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DOI: 10.3354/esr00673


The Western Ghats region of India is an area of exceptional freshwater biodiversity and endemism. Mahseer of the genus Tor are considered prized sport fishes of great cultural sig- nificance; nevertheless, they are threatened as a result of increasing anthropogenic stressors. In the River Cauvery, the mahseer community comprises a ‘blue-finned’ and an orange-finned, ‘hump-backed’ fish. Whilst it is not yet known whether these are distinct species or 2 different phenotypes, evidence suggests that the hump-backed phenotype is endemic to the river, whereas the blue-finned phenotype was introduced in the 1980s. Angler-catch data from a managed fish- ery on the River Cauvery, gathered between 1998 and 2012 and comprising 23 620 h of fishing effort, revealed that captured individuals ranged in size from 0.45 to 46.8 kg, with the blue-finned phenotype comprising 95 % of all captured fish and the remainder being hump-backed. The catch per unit effort (CPUE) of the blue-finned phenotype significantly increased over the study period, while the mean weight of individual fish significantly declined. By contrast, the CPUE of the hump-backed phenotype declined significantly over the period, with individual mean weights significantly increasing. These data suggest a recent recruitment collapse in the hump-backed phenotype resulting in an ageing population that may be headed towards extinction. The intro- duced blue-finned phenotype, however, continues to recruit strongly, suggesting that the mahseer community of the River Cauvery has undergone considerable shifts in the last 30 yr.

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:Western Ghats • Tor khudree • Tor mussullah • Catch and release • Endemic • Recruitment • Recreational fisheries
Group:Faculty of Science & Technology
ID Code:22118
Deposited By: Symplectic RT2
Deposited On:16 Jun 2015 13:29
Last Modified:14 Mar 2022 13:51


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