The complexity of water basins in Turkey contributes to the country’s high rates of fish endemism. In fact, Turkey has one of the world’s richest freshwater biodiversity, with at least 91 endemic freshwater fish species, plus 57 taxonomically distinct sub-species or populations. Of these, nine species or populations are considered Critically Endangered by IUCN, a further seven are Endangered and 19 are Data Deficient. Anthropogenic alterations of Turkey’s freshwaters have caused considerable damage to its fish fauna and development of dams and diversion of water is irrevocably destroying many freshwater ecosystems.
Turkey’s internationally important diversity in freshwater fish species is recently well understood, and there is growing recognition that threats to key species result in rapid extinctions. Additionally, there is acknowledgement that accidental or deliberate introductions of alien invasive species are having serious impacts on biodiversity known to pose a significant risk to native fish populations.
Doğa’s freshwater fish conservation work aims to address the decline of some of Turkey’s freshwater fish species, such as Mesopotamian Barbel (Luciobarbus subquincunciatus) in the Tigris River, Aphanius killifish in the lakes region and Central Anatolia and the Alakır Trout (Salmo kottelati) in the province of Antalya. Doğa’s work on freshwater fish involves habitat research and safeguarding as well as community engagement.
Photograph: © Barbara Nicca