Fish community of a small, temperate, urban river in South Africa
Freshwater and marine-spawned fishes were sampled from the Baakens River, a small urban river that runs through the city of Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. Using fyke nets, 8 sites were sampled along the river course over a 4-month period (January – April 2014). Catches were comprised of indigenous freshwater, marine migrant and alien fishes. Marine migrant fishes, including catadromous species dependent on freshwater for early life-history strategies, were significantly affected by instream barriers which prohibited upstream migration of all species except Anguilla mossambica. The freshwater fish fauna was dominated by Tilapia sparrmanii and Pseudocrenilabrus philander, species that are alien to the Baakens River. While indigenous Barbus pallidus and Sandelia capensis were both abundant and widely distributed in the river, only two Pseudobarbus afer were sampled from one survey site. The low abundance and narrow distribution of this endangered species is of concern and human-mediated impacts on this species require urgent evaluation and mitigation.
Keywords: Baakens River, migration barrier, weir, alien fish, endangered fish