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Zoolog Sci. 2010 May;27(5):402-9. doi: 10.2108/zsj.27.402.

Seasonal variation in drifting eggs and larvae in the upper Yangtze, China.

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Key Laboratory of Biodiversity and Conservation of Aquatic Organisms, Institute of Hydrobiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 7th Southern Road of East Lake, Wuhan, Hubei 430072, China.


From 5 March to 25 July 2008, ichthyoplankton drifting into the Three Gorges Reservoir from the upper reaches of the Yangtze River were sampled daily to investigate the species composition, abundance, and seasonal variation in early-stage fishes in this area. Twenty-eight species belonging to five orders and 17 families or subfamilies were identified by analyzing fish eggs and larvae, and a total of 14.16 billion individuals were estimated drifting through the sampling section during the investigation. Among the ichthyoplankton sampled, species in Cultrinae, Cobitidae, Gobioninae and Gobiidae, along with the common carp (Cyprinus carpio Linnaeus), comprised 89.6% of the total amount. Six peaks of drift density were identified during the sampling period, and a significant correlation was found between drift density with water discharge. The dominant species were different in each drift peak, indicating different spawning times for the major species. The total amount of the four major Chinese carps that drifted through the sampling section was estimated as 0.88 billion, indicating an increase in the population sizes of these species in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River after construction of the Three Gorges Dam. Actually, these reaches have become the largest spawning area for the four major Chinese carps in the Yangtze River. The large total amount of eggs and larvae drifting through this section demonstrated that the upper reaches of the Yangtze River provided important spawning sites for many fish species, and that conservation of this area should be of great concern.

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