Evaluation of fish diversity and abundance in the Kabul River with comparisons between reaches above and below Kabul City, Afghanistan

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Ugyen Kelzang
Ahmad Farid Habibi
Ryan J. Thoni


The fish fauna of the Kabul River downstream of the City of Kabul face threats from increasing human population such as pollution, overfishing, and increased development. Despite the rapid increase of these activities leading to threats to fishes in the Kabul River, no studies have examined the changes in diversity, distribution, and abundance of fish fauna in the Kabul River surrounding of Kabul City.  In this study, the Kabul River was divided into two zones (upstream and downstream) consisting of six sampling sites (3 sites per zone). Of the total of 1,190 fishes collected, Cypriniformes was the dominant order with one family, six genera, and eight species. Cyprinidae was the dominant family of that order with 81.4% (n= 969) of total individuals. Species abundance was higher in the upstream reaches in almost all analyses. Upstream sites recorded 11 species, while seven species were recorded from downstream sites. Fish species richness was significantly higher upstream versus downstream reaches (9.67 ± 1.53 vs.  6.33 ± .58; U= .00, z= -1.99, p= .04, r= .81). Species diversity upstream was significantly higher than downstream (H’= 1.90 ± 0.15, D1= 0.81 ± 0.02). Similarly, species evenness was also higher upstream than downstream (J’= 0.84 ± 0.01). Low diversity, abundance, and evenness in downstream reaches are likely due to anthropogenic activities affecting the river in and around Kabul City.

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