Presence of Danube barbel Barbus balcanicus was investigated at the westernmost portion of its distribution area (Italian portion of the Isonzo River Basin). Genetic analyses carried out on specimens collected in different watercourses confirmed B. balcanicus presence in the same locations where Barbus caninus was erroneously classified in the past. More precisely, 4 Cyt b haplotypes belonging to the Balkanic species were described, three of which were evidenced for the first time. Analysis of meristic characters also confirmed genetic results and completed the taxonomical assessment. At the same time, a target population was studied to deepen knowledge about the species ecology. In this case, 120 specimens belonging to five age classes (from 0+ to 4+) were collected with monthly frequency in Barbucina Creek, representing the model watercourse inhabited by the species in the study area. Regression between total weight (W) and standard length (SL) did not differ significantly between males and females, therefore not displaying sexual dimorphism. SL values showed wide ranges, often overlapping among age classes. Mean condition factor (Kmean) decreased significantly with growth and age, as small individuals were in better nutritional condition. From an ecological point of view, biometric parameters seemed to be affected by habitat conditions and, specifically, to the limited space of the creeks, rather than by trophic conditions. Finally, trends of gonadosomatic index (GSI) showed that B. balcanicus reproductive period stretches between April and late May/early June. Results indicated that sexual maturity is reached at 1+ age, corresponding to a mean standard length equal to 5.50 ± 0.66 for female and 5.71 ± 0.53 for male breeders. In conclusion, experimental results highlighted the presence and adaptability of this “forgotten” species of the Italian fish fauna, which certainly will deserve attention in a future amendment of the Italian IUCN Red List of vertebrates.
Biology and distribution of Danube barbel (Barbus balcanicus) (Osteichthyes Cyprinidae) at the Northwestern limit of its range / Bertoli, M.; Pizzul, E.; DE VESCOVI, V.; Franz, F.; Pastorino, MARIA PIA; Giulianini, P. G.; Ferrari, C.; NONNIS MARZANO, F.. - In: THE EUROPEAN ZOOLOGICAL JOURNAL. - ISSN 2475-0263. - 86:1(2019), pp. 280-293. [10.1080/24750263.2019.1647298]
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