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Garra barreimiae

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA ACTINOPTERYGII CYPRINIFORMES CYPRINIDAE

Scientific Name: Garra barreimiae
Species Authority: Fowler & Steinitz, 1956
Common Name(s):
English Oman Garra
Synonym(s):
Garra barreimiae subspecies gallagheri Krupp, 1988
Garra barreimiae subspecies shawkahensis Banister and Clarke, 1977
Garra barreimiae subspecies wurayahi Khalaf, 2009
Taxonomic Notes: Four subspecies have been described, including G. b. barreimiae, G. b gallagheri Krupp, 1988 and G. b. shawkahensis Banister and Clarke, 1977. A fourth subspecies Garra b. wurayahi was described by Khalaf (2009) but with little distinguishing information; a holotype is listed, albeit in a private collection, and a very short description is made. The taxonomy and distribution of G. barreimiae should reviewed (G. Feulner pers. comm. 2012). A 'blind' subpopulation, recorded by Banister (1984) is often referred to as the ‘Omani blind cave fish’. Banister (1984) and other authors consider it to be a form of Garra barreimiae, and Kruckenhauser et al. (2011) have found that it is not genetically greatly removed from adjacent surface dwelling subpopulations. All these subspecies as well as the blind form are assessed together as G. barreimiae. Molecular genetic analysis of several subpopulations of G. barreimiae in Oman by Kruckenhauser et al. (2011) indicates that the distribution of the species along the interior flank of the Oman mountains may correlate with major watersheds. The overall distribution of G. barreimiae, shown in the Red List map, includes basins in the Saiq Plateau that are inhabited by subpopulations elsewhere identified as Garra longipinnis. Field studies (Feulner 2002) and molecular genetic studies (Kruckenhauser et al. 2011) suggest that these subpopulations are better classified within G. barreimiae. The molecular genetic studies of Kruckenhauser et al. (2011) also suggest that the subpopulations of G. barreimiae from the Gulf of Oman flank of the mountains may in fact be distinct at the species level from those of the interior.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2015
Date Assessed: 2012-04-18
Assessor(s): Harrison, I.J.
Reviewer(s): Feulner, G.R. & Freyhof, J.
Contributor(s): World Conservation Monitoring Centre
Justification:
This species is common and widespread throughout the mountains of Oman and the United Arab Emirates in the Arabian Peninsula. It is therefore assessed as Least Concern.
History:
1996 Vulnerable

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species is endemic to the United Arab Emirates and Oman (Krupp 1983). It has a wide but disjunct range in the Arabian Gulf drainages of the United Arab Emirates and throughout the Gulf of Oman drainages of the Oman mountains (Krupp 1988). A 'blind' subpopulation of this species was recorded by Banister (1984) from caves opening high on the south flank of the Jebel Akhdar range, nine kilometres east-southeast of Al-Hamra, in Oman. This subpopulation, often referred to as the ‘Omani blind cave fish’, is restricted to the Hoti cave system, with an extent of occurrence less than 100 km2 and an area of occupancy of less than 10 km2.

The entire species has an extent of occurrence estimated at more than 20,000 km2, based on the sub-basins in which it is found, but it is not distributed throughout the full extent of these sub-basins, being restricted to the mountainous parts of the sub-basins rather than the lower altitude gravel plains. Hence the species has a restricted area of occupancy estimated at less than 500 km2 (EPAA 2002).
Countries:
Native:
Oman; United Arab Emirates
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: This is the most common and widespread species of fish in mountain wadis in Oman and the United Arab Emirates (Feulner 1998, Khalaf-Sakerfalke von Jaffa 2009). The subpopulation known as the Omani blind cave fish is a single, much smaller subpopulation of less than 10,000 individuals. The subpopulation of the Omani blind cave fish is currently stable.
Population Trend: Stable

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: This species is typically found in small rock or gravel pools, shallow sections of larger pools with slow-moving water, springs and fast running perennial rivers. Krupp (1988) reports the subspecies gallagheri is found over fine sand and mud substrate with scattered boulders, as well as over bare rock, gravel, and among aquatic plants. According to Feulner (1998) the species can evidently survive the almost complete disappearance of surface water from its wadi environment. Its behaviour at springs contains hints that the fish may, to some extent, be pre-adapted to subterranean conditions, and this has given rise to speculation that it may be able to resort to fossicking for short periods, withdrawing to the interstitial space in wadi gravels, when the water level retreats below ground (G. Feulner pers. comm. 2012). Individuals can travel short distances out of water, skittering over damp rock surfaces between small puddles in shallow mountain rivulets. Medium size fish are also known to ascend steep rock surfaces near waterfalls, or during rain, a behaviour consistent with the species' tendency to explore upstream. Experiments have shown that this species can tolerate water temperatures up to c. 40ºC (104ºF) and salinity up to one-third that of sea water (Haas, 1982), but it usually lives in water temperature between 18°C and 24°C, pH range: 6.5 - 7.5, and dH range: 10 - 20 (Khalaf-Sakerfalke von Jaffa 2009). The species is a bottom-feeder, grazing across gravel and rock surfaces and feeding on detritus and algae. In the subspecies G. b. gallagheri the gut contents consist mainly of unicellular algae; other components include filamentous algae, Rotatoria, nematodes, crustaceans, and a relatively large amount of sand grains (Krupp 1988). The tiny eggs are laid in gravel when conditions are suitable. Spawning may be triggered by rain or thunderstorms (Feulner 1998, Khalaf-Sakerfalke von Jaffa 2009).  

The cave dwelling form (the 'Omani blind cave fish'), reported by Banister (1984) may occasionally access exposed wadis during periods of high water (EPAA 2002, Kruckenhauser et al. 2011). Sexual maturity in the cave dwelling 'Omani blind cave fish' might not be reached before 11 years, which is long compared to other small surface dwelling cyprinids that usually reach maturity in one to three years (EPAA 2002).
Systems: Freshwater

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Small scale fishing for this species continues in the northern part of its range, where the species is part of the traditional local diet (Feulner 1998, Feulner 2006b, EPAA 2003, Khalaf-Sakerfalke von Jaffa 2009).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The subpopulation at the type locality (Buraimi) appears to have been extirpated due to extraction of water. However, much of the range of this species is in areas remote from regular human encounters, therefore the threats are likely to be less severe. The principal threat is degradation of the hydrologic regime, whether because of over-extraction of water or climate change. In a few instances, significant subpopulations may be at risk from upstream human activities, including pesticides, agricultural chemicals and/or quarrying activities. 

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Recommendations for conservation actions include management of the habitat. Genetic, morphological and ecological research is required to determine the genetic differentiation between the putative subspecies and between the surface dwelling form and the cave dwelling subpopulation of 'Omani blind cave fish'. It has been recommended (EPAA 2002) that the cave dwelling form (Omani blind cave fish) should be managed separately for conservation purposes. This species has been bred in captivity. As of August 2012, the Breeding Centre for Endangered Arabian Wildlife (BCEAW), Sharjah, United Arab Emirates has a captive breeding population of over 2,300 individuals (J. Els pers. comm. 2012). The population has bred continuously since 2009, without new specimens being supplemented into the captive stock from the wild or other institutions (J. Els pers. comm. 2012). According to EPAA (2003), individuals of the surface dwelling form and 500 individuals of the Omani blind cave fish are also held at Chester Zoo, University of Hamburg, and the National Zoo in South Africa. A captive stock held in the laboratory of Horst Wilkens, in Hamburg, has reproduced several times (Proudlove 2001).

Citation: Harrison, I.J. 2015. Garra barreimiae. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 01 July 2015.
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