Fish assemblages as ecological indicators in the Büyük Menderes (Great Meander) River, Turkey

Stamatis Zogaris, Nicholas Koutsikos*, Yorgos Chatzinikolaou, Saniye Cevher Őzeren, Kaan Yence, Vassiliki Vlami, Pinar Güler Kohlmeier, Gürçay Kıvanç Akyildiz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
23 Downloads (Pure)


This research describes fish assemblages and associated aquatic ecosystem degradation patterns in the Büyük Menderes River, one of Turkey’s most important Anatolian basins. Using standard electrofishing, 44 river sites were sampled throughout the basin accounting for the distribution and abundance of 20 native and seven non-native species, totaling 13,535 fish specimens. At each sampling site, anthropogenic pressures were assessed, and information was gathered to determine the degree of human-induced degradation that may affect fish and their habitats; each site was scored on the basis of a site quality index (SQI). Using the best-available relatively less-degraded river sites, cluster analyses of the samples defined six fish assemblage river types. Further classification of all fish samples utilizing bipartite network analysis resulted in comparable assemblage groupings. The European Fish Index (EFI+) with minor adaptations was applied for assessing river ecological integrity at all sampled sites in order to explore the utility of this widely used index. The EFI+ index results correlated with scores of the SQI but provided a very narrow assessment range, thus failing to accurately and consistently assess the severity of anthropogenic degradation. We recommend a new multimetric index to be developed for the Western Anatolian Ecoregion, of which this basin is a part. The data and insights gained from this exercise may help continue fish-based indicator development for policy-relevant management and conservation in Turkey’s rivers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2292
Number of pages30
JournalWater (Switzerland)
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Jun-2023


  • bioassessment
  • ecological integrity
  • fish
  • river basin
  • Turkey
  • water framework directive


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