Biodiv Sci ›› 2020, Vol. 28 ›› Issue (4): 422-434.DOI: 10.17520/biods.2019071

• Special Feature: Altay Animal Diversity • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Species diversity of freshwater fish and assessment on watershed health in the Irtysh River and Ulungur River basins in Xinjiang, China

Xuejian Li1,2,Peiyao Jia2,Chengyi Niu2,Yingchun Xing3,Haolin Li4,Haibo Liu2,Wenqiao Tang1,*(),Yahui Zhao2,*()   

  1. 1 College of Fisheries and Life Science, Shanghai Ocean University, Shanghai 201306
    2 Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101
    3 Chinese Academy of Fishery Sciences, Beijing 100039
    4 Tianjin Natural History Museum, Tianjin 300201
  • Received:2019-11-11 Accepted:2020-01-14 Online:2020-04-20 Published:2020-06-15
  • Contact: Wenqiao Tang,Yahui Zhao


We conducted yearly field surveys between 2013 and 2016 in Altay Prefecture, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region to understand the current status of fish species diversity and its change in the Irtysh River and the Ulungu River basins. The Margalef richness index, the Shannon-Wiener diversity index, and the Pielou evenness index were applied to assess the species diversity and temporal and spatial variation of freshwater fishes, based on the data collected from our field investigations, museum collection, and research literature. There were 23 native fish species distributed in the Irtysh River and the Ulungu River basins. And 19 of them were collected with 15 exotic species during our surveys. The fish fauna is dominated by cyprinid fishes. High proportions of endemic and endangered fish are distinct characteristics of fish composition in Altay Prefecture. Our results showed that the fish diversity in the basins was generally stable between 2013 and 2016. Species richness in the Irtysh River was higher than one in the Ulungu River. Additionally, the Fish Index of Biological Integrity (F-IBI) of 34 sampling sites indicated that the river health of most sites in the Irtysh River basin was at the “sub-health” or “general” level, while that of most ones in the Ulungu River basin was “healthy”. Water infrastructures, exotic species, and overexploitation of fish resources were key factors to influence freshwater fishes in the region. Aiming at the protection of fish biodiversity and improvement of river healthy, several ways should be applied in future including ecological scheduling of multi-scale coupling of reservoir group, construction of fish pass, scientific management of aquaculture to control the exotic species, artificial enhancement and releasing of endemic and endangered fish, and in situ conservation.

Key words: Arctic water system, freshwater fish, IBI, river health, China