Climate change may cause 26% habitat loss for snow trout in Himalayan rivers

In this news, we discuss the Climate change may cause 26% habitat loss for snow trout in Himalayan rivers.

Snow trout, the iconic cold-water fish species found in Himalayan rivers, would lose its habitat by 16% over the next 30 years and more than 26% by 2070, according to a new study on climate change by the Wildlife Institute of India. .

The study – “Is there always room at the top” – was published on September 6 in “Ecological Indicators”, an internationally renowned journal based in the Netherlands.

The study indicates that most of the lower elevation streams across the Himalayas would be rendered unsuitable for the existence of snow trout as temperatures increase.

A set of 72 statistical models across the Himalayas, the study – written by Wildlife Institute of India (WII) scientists Aashna Sharma, Vineet Kumar Dubey, Jeyaraj Antony Johnson, Yogesh Kumar Rawal and Kuppusamy Sivakumar reveals that Vulnerable snow would be pressed into the high altitude rivers in the Himalayas.

“Our empirical results strongly suggest that snow trout, one of the main cold-water fish of Himalayan rivers, would experience habitat loss in the future and that high-altitude areas would only act as saviors. , provided that appropriate habitat connectivity is offered, senior scientist Kuppusamy Sivakumar told PTI.

The study indicates that mountain systems around the world are visibly sensitive to ongoing climate change and that the condition is much worse in the Himalayas, where the rate of warming, and therefore melting of glaciers, is much higher. than elsewhere.

Cold-water Himalayan species are most vulnerable to these changes due to their limited thermal range, he says.

Funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DST), the study is part of the government’s National Mission for the Preservation of the Himalayan Ecosystem (NMSHE), which was launched to study the impact of climate change on the Himalayan ecosystem.

The study repeats that if countries around the world continue their greenhouse gas emissions as usual (mentioning it as the “ business as usual scenario ”), the species (snow trout) would lose a net habitat by 16.29% until 2050, which would increase further to 26.56% in 2070.

As it stands, snow trout face serious threats due to changes in the river valley, destructive fishing practices and introductions of exotic salmonids, he says.

Due to the persistent threats, the size of its population has been significantly reduced in Himalayan waters, hence listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, he adds.

The fish species has great commercial and recreational value and its mere presence in cold high-altitude waters makes it a flagship species for the conservation of Himalayan rivers, the study said.

Already exposed to many anthropogenic stressors, the plight of the snow trout population and many concomitant genera can be considered to be explicitly at higher risk in the Himalayas, he adds.

They also reported the creeping dam of rivers across the Himalayas, claiming that the presence of dams would definitely hamper the way fish move to safer havens, ultimately risking their very survival.

Our results highlight that snow trout would expand their range upward in high elevation streams with a concomitant predominant range contraction in most of their lagged edges, ultimately creating compression at high elevations, according to the study.

The study recommends some solutions such as convincing conservation efforts across political borders through combined decisions of decision makers in Himalayan countries.

It also includes reducing unsustainable exploitation of rivers for hydroelectric development projects and energy efficiency by improving the potential of green energy.

They also highlight the need for more focus on the science of climate change in India, more so in the Himalayas, which the team says is expected to warm at a rate much higher than the global average rate of around 0. , 4 C.

The team explained that never before has such a comprehensive and rigorous overall methodology been used to understand the impacts of climate change on freshwater species in India.

They said there was an urgent need for intergovernmental policy measures – involving India, Nepal and Bhutan – to maintain the biodiversity of these rivers.

News Highlights:

Climate change could cause habitat loss of 26% for snow trout in Himalayan rivers

Mountain systems are visibly sensitive to ongoing climate change

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