Saving critically endangered fish species – utopia or a practical idea? The story of the Yarqon bleak – Acanthobrama telavivensis (Cyprinidae) as a test case
aqua, International Journal of Ichthyology, pp. 1-12, Volume 15, Issue 1 – 15 January 2009
Sixteen percent of the Israeli native freshwater fishes have become extinct and 19% are critically endangered. The situation in other arid and semi-arid countries is similar. Are all the endangered species doomed to become extinct? The case of the restoration of the wild populations of the Yarqon bleak clearly shows that there is an alternative. The Yarqon bleak, a cyprinid fish endemic to the Mediterranean rivers in Israel, almost became extinct following the drought of 1998-1999. Several days prior to the drying of the streams, ca. 150 fish from two basins were brought to the Ichthyological Laboratory at Tel Aviv University. They were carefully treated and housed in a breeding centre. Within five years, we had managed to produce more than 14,000 fish. First attempts to reintroduce the fish to the Yarqon River, made in 2002 and 2003, failed, in that the adults did not breed. Following an experiment which showed that the fish need suitable spawning sites and shelter sites for juveniles, several aquatic sites were engineered according to knowledge acquired during the research and were stocked with laboratory-born fish in 2006. During 2007and 2008, juvenile Yarqon bleak of various sizes were found in eight out of 11 monitored sites. The success to save the Yarqon bleak shows that endangered fish species can be rescued. This requires action to be taken along two fronts: 1) raising public awareness and 2) a professional approach that includes relevant research and implementation of the results.
ELRON, E. 2000. Biological and ecological aspects of Acanthobrama telavivensis, an endangered species. M.Sc. Thesis, under the supervision of M. Goren and A. Gasith, Tel Aviv University. (In Hebrew with English abstract).
ELRON, E., GOREN, M. MILSTEIN, D. & GASITH A. 2004. Ammonia toxicity to juvenile Acanthobrama telavivensis (Cyprinidae), a critically endangered endemic fish in the coastal plain of Israel. Israel Journal of Zoology 50: 321-331.
ELRON, E., GASITH, A. & GOREN, M. 2006. Reproductive strategy of a small endemic cyprinid, Acanthobrama telavivensis, in a Mediterranean-type stream. Environmental Biology of Fishes 77: 141-155.
GASITH, A. 1992. Conservation and management of the coastal streams of Israel: An assessment of stream status and prospect for rehabilitation. In: River Conservation and Management. (Eds. Boon, P. J., Calow, P. & Petts, G.E.): 51-64. John Wiley Sons, New York.
GASITH, A. & RESH, V. H. 1999. Streams in Mediterranean climate regions: abiotic influences and biotic responses to predictable seasonal events. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 31: 51-58.
GAFNY, S., GASITH, A. & GOREN, M. 1992. The effect of water level fluctuation on shore spawning of Mirogrex terraesanctae (Cyprinidae) in Lake Kinneret, Israel. Journal of Fish Biology 41: 863-871.
GOREN, M. 1983. Freshwater fishes of Israel: biology and taxonomy. Hakibbutz Hameuchad, Tel-Aviv, 102 pp (in Hebrew).
GOREN, M. 2003. Freshwater fishes in Israel. In: The Red Book – Vertebrates in Israel (Eds. A. Dolev, & A. Pervelozky,): 41-55. Keter Publications Jerusalem (English addition – 2004).
GOREN, M. & GALIL, B.S. 2005. A review of changes in the fish assemblages of Levantine inland and marine ecosystems following the introduction of non-native fishes. Journal of Applied Ichthyology 21: 364-370.
GOREN, M., FISHELSON, L. & TREWAVAS, E. 1973. The Cyprinid fishes of Acanthobrama Heckel and related genera. Bulletin of the British Museum (Natural History, Zoology) 24: 291-315.
GOREN, M. & ORTAL, R. 1999. Biodiversity of the inland water fishes of Israel. Biological Conservation 89: 1-9. IUCN 2006 http://www.iucn.org/bookstore/HTMLbooks/Red-medfish/Results.html.
LEVY, N. 2004. The relative degree of proximity between species of the genera Acanthobrama and Mirogrex (Family: Cyprinidae) in the inland freshwater in Israel. M.Sc. Thesis, under the supervision of M. Goren Tel Aviv University. (In Hebrew with English abstract).
LIEBES, B. 2003. Aspects of Reproduction in “Lavnun Hayarqon” (Acanthobrama telavivensis) Effect of Temperature and Availability of Spawning Ground. M.Sc. Thesis, under the supervision of M. Goren Tel Aviv University. (In Hebrew with English abstract).