Abstract – The low number of native fish species of the Chilean Mediterranean region (27º S to 36º S) is a consequence of its geographic and hydrological characteristics. The area has marked precipitation gradients as a result of both latitudinal differences in precipitation and the higher precipitation at high altitudes in the Andes. The seasonal hydrologic variability characteristic of Mediterranean climatic zones occurs in the area together with inter-annual variations due to El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO), a significant oceanic climatic influence which determines lower daily and seasonal temperature gradients compared to similar northern latitudes. River catchment areas above 3000 elevation generate short and torrential channels with high velocity, a snow–pluvial regime without riparian vegetation and high total salinity composition.
Only 21 native species have been described in this region. They are important due to their high endemism and primitiveness, along with their biogeographical relations, especially the Siluriforms with the northern tropical fauna and the Galaxiidae with Gondwana fish. Currently 75% of the fish species of this region are classified as endangered or vulnerable according to Chilean regulations.
Knowledge of the biology and ecology of these species is still incomplete. The information available is mostly classical morphological descriptions, although recently there have been studies of genetics and speciation. This review describes the current distribution and knowledge of the biology and ecology of the native fauna of the Chilean Mediterranean zone and the main threats for their conservation.
Keywords : freshwater fish, distribution, conservation, Siluriforms, Galaxiidae
Citation : Vila I, Habit E (2015) Current situation of the fish fauna in the Mediterranean region of Andean river systems in Chile. FiSHMED Fishes in Mediterranean Environments 2015.002:19p.
Article first published online : 01 January 2015