Biodiversity Science ›› 2019, Vol. 27 ›› Issue (10): 1090-1100.doi: 10.17520/biods.2019195

• Original Papers • Previous Article     Next Article

Freshwater fish diversity in the upper and middle reaches of the Lancang-Mekong River

Li Xueqing1, 2, Sun Heying1, 2, He Dekui1, *(), Chen Yifeng1   

  1. 1 Institute of Hydrobiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Wuhan 430072
    2 University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049
  • Received:2019-06-13 Accepted:2019-08-30 Online:2019-10-20
  • He Dekui

The Lancang-Mekong River is the longest river in Southeast Asia, and is one of the richest areas of freshwater biodiversity in the world. Because it is an international river through six countries and holds extremely high fish biodiversity, there is a lack of systematic understanding of freshwater fish diversity. Over the past two decades, this team systematically compiled a list of freshwater fish species in 32 sub-basins or tributaries in the upper and middle reaches of the Lancang-Mekong River. Now in this paper, the species composition and distribution of fish have been analyzed, and the species diversity of the upper and middle reaches of the Lancang-Mekong River has been evaluated using the taxonomic diversity index. The results showed that 745 species of freshwater fish were recorded in the middle and upper reaches of the Lancang-Mekong River. These fish belong to 229 genera, 63 families, 17 orders and 2 classes. Of these, 451 species of Cypriniformes fish accounted for 60.5% of the species. The taxonomic diversity index showed that, from the source to the middle reaches of the river, the taxonomic distribution of freshwater fish became increasingly more even, the relationships were increasingly further apart, and the fish diversity gradually increased. Cluster analysis (CA) and multi-dimensional scaling analysis (MDS) results showed that the 32 sub-basins could be divided into three groups (Jaccard similarity coefficient=8.69), and the analysis of similarity (ANOSIM) indicated that the composition of freshwater fish differed significantly between the groups (R = 0.877, P = 0.001). Similarity percentage analysis (SIMPER) results indicated that Cypriniformes and Siluriformes were the main fish that differed among the three groups, and the species composition of groups presented distinctive changes at the family and species levels with the altitude rising. With the rapid population growth and economic development of the countries in the river basin in recent decades, the fish diversity and fishery resources of the Lancang-Mekong River face serious threats. Thus, it is urgent that countries in the river basin cooperate and formulate a scientific protection plan at the basin scale.

Key words: Lancang-Mekong River, freshwater fish, species composition, taxonomic diversity

Fig. 1

Map of the upper and middle reaches of the Lancang-Mekong River, the geographic regions (sub-basins or tributaries) and investigation spots in this study. Sub-basins Division: ZQ: Zaqu; SQ: Sequ; AD: Adong River; YC: Yongchun River; TD: Tongdian River; EH: Erhai; BJ: Bijiang; HH: Heihui River; LZ: Luoza River; MG: Mengga River; XH: Xiaohei River; WY: Weiyuan River; HR: Hei River; BY: Buyuan River; LS: Liusha River; NL: Nanla River; DZ: Dazhong River; MK-1: The Border between China and LAOs-Bokeo, LAOs; MK-2: Bokeo-Nam Ou River Estuary, Luang Prabang; NO: Nam Ou River; NK: Nam Khan River; NN: Nam Ngum River; MK-3: Nam Ou River Estuary, Luang Prabang-Nam Ngum Estuary, Vientiane; NNP: Nam Nhiep River; NC: Nam Cadinh River; SG: Songkhram River; CHI: Chi River; MUN: Mun; SBF: Se Bang Fai River; SBH: Se Bang Hieng River; SK: Se Kong River; MK-4: Songkhram Estuary-the border between LAOs and Cambodia."

Table 1

Average taxonomic distinctness (Δ+) and variation in taxonomic distinctness (Λ+) of 32 sub-basins in the upper and middle Lancang-Mekong River. Sub-basin codes are shown in Fig. 1."

Species number
Average taxonomic distinctness (Δ+)
Variation in taxonomic distinctness (Λ+)
Species number
Average taxonomic distinctness (Δ+)
variation in taxonomic distinctness (Λ+)
ZQ 17 60.88 434.52 NL 116 65.78 221.76
SQ 24 61.45 348.62 MK-1 240 68.52 233.13
AD 10 60.89 550.32 MK-2 99 67.47 232.44
YC 21 63.05 379.28 NO 105 65.64 247.45
TD 26 62.95 370.35 NK 85 67.68 227.93
BJ 54 64.72 261.12 MK-3 223 70.52 223.58
HH 39 66.37 256.32 NN 157 67.92 224.96
EH 23 56.92 396.82 NNP 123 69.65 220.26
LZ 49 65.92 218.71 NC 104 69.47 226.98
XH 62 65.67 221.7 SG 70 72.31 182.76
MG 10 66.22 210.17 CHI 170 71.55 185.59
WY 32 67.06 242.95 MUN 294 71.68 198.2
HR 23 64.19 331.85 SBF 72 68.46 237.22
DZ 11 60.73 406.74 SBH 157 69.83 216.84
BY 100 66.5 247.27 SK 94 65.67 244.18
LS 109 66.14 226.43 MK-4 379 71.45 195.07

Fig. 2

The 95% probability funnels of average taxonomic distinctness (Δ+) and variation in taxonomic distinctness (Λ+) for 32 sub-basins of the upper and middle reaches of Lancang-Mekong River. Sub-basin codes are shown in Fig. 1."

Fig. 3

Cluster analysis of 32 sub-basins freshwater fish data for the upper and middle reaches of the Lancang-Mekong River based on Jaccard similarity matrix and group average clustering method. Sub-basin codes are shown in Fig. 1."

Fig. 4

Multi-dimensional scaling analysis of freshwater fish in 32 sub-basins in the upper and middle reaches of the Lancang-Mekong River based on Jaccard similarity matrix. Sub- basin codes are shown in Fig. 1."

Table 2

The genera contributing to similarity of freshwater fish composition among three biogeographical regions in the upper and middle reaches of the Lancang-Mekong River."

Key genus
Headwaters & upper reach
Upper reach & middle reach
Headwaters & middle reach
高鲮属 Altigena 2.47 - -
纹胸鮡属 Glyptothorax 7.62 2.37 2.15
半鲿属 Hemibagrus - 1.9 -
间吸鳅属 Hemimyzon 2.4 - -
长臀鲃属 Mystacoleucus - 1.97 2.15
鳠属 Mystus - 1.95 2.07
纹唇鱼属 Osteochilus - 1.83 1.97
无齿??属 Pangasianodon - 1.8 -
单孔鲀属 Pao - 1.83 1.99
鮡属 Pareuchiloglanis 3.11 - -
吻孔鲃属 Poropuntius 2.97 2.39 2.02
褶鮡属 Pseudecheneis 3.23 - -
波鱼属 Rasbora - 3.17 3.1
南鳅属 Schistura 2.83 3.92 2.79
裂腹鱼属 Schizothorax 6.25 - 2.61
结鱼属 Tor 2.68 - -
高原鳅属 Triplophysa 6.18 - 2.27

Table 3

The genera contributing to similarity of fish composition within headwaters, upper and middle reaches"

目 Order 科 Family 属 Genus 贡献率 Contribution (%)
源区 Headwaters 鲤形目 Cypriniformes 鲤科 Cyprinidae 裂腹鱼属 Schizothorax 34.43
叶须鱼属 Ptychobarbus 2.04
裸裂尻鱼属 Schizopygopsis 2.04
条鳅科 Nemacheilidae 高原鳅属 Triplophysa 16.11
荷马条鳅属 Homatula 2.13
爬鳅科 Balitoridae 拟平鳅属 Pseudohomaloptera 2.13
鲇形目 Siluriformes
鮡科 Sisoridae 纹胸鮡属 Glyptothorax 9.86
鮡属 Pareuchiloglanis 7.95
褶鮡属 Pseudecheneis 6.74
异鮡属 Creteuchiloglanis 4.61
Upper reach
鲤形目 Cypriniformes 鲤科 Cyprinidae 吻孔鲃属 Poropuntius 7.07
舟齿鱼属 Scaphiodonichthys 4.7
结鱼属 Torg 4.13
高鲮属 Altigena 3.42
墨头鱼属 Garra 3.4
东坡墨鱼属 Ageneiogarra 3.01
条鳅科 Nemacheilidae 南鳅属 Schistura 3.91
鲇形目 Siluriformes
鮡科 Sisoridae 纹胸鮡属 Glyptothorax 8.86
褶鮡属 Pseudecheneis 4.1
锡伯鲶科 Ailiidae 鲱鲶属 Clupisoma 2.98
Middle reach
鲤形目 Cypriniformes 鲤科 Cyprinidae 长臀鲃属 Mystacoleucus 4
圆唇鱼属 Cyclocheilichthys 2.66
裂峡鲃属 Hampala 2.48
纹唇鱼属 Osteochilus 2.7
鱼丹科 Danionidae 波鱼属 Rasbora 3.91
真马口波鱼属 Opsarius 3.74
鲈形目 Perciformes 鳢科 Channidae 鳢属 Channa 3.36
合鳃目 Synbranchiformes 刺鳅科 Mastacembelidae 刺鳅属 Mastacembelus 2.3
鲇形目 Siluriformes 鲿科 Bagridae 鳠属 Mystus 2.28
鲀形目 Tetraodontiformes 鲀科 Tetraodontidae 单孔鲀属 Pao 2.22
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