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Diversity of native larvivorous fish fauna during pre and post tsunami in Car Nicobar, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, India

1 ICMR-National Institute of Malaria Research, Field Unit, ITKI, Ranchi-835301, Jharkhand, India
2 GB Panth Hospital, Port Blair-744104, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, India

Correspondence Address:
Manoj Kumar Das,
ICMR-National Institute of Malaria Research, Field Unit, ITKI, Ranchi-835301, Jharkhand
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0972-9062.318317

Background & objectives: Malaria is a serious public health problem in Car Nicobar Island, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, India. Using larvivorous fishes has proved to be the cheapest method for vector management approach, with long suppression of mosquito population. This study aims to scale-up the diversity of larvivorous fishes and their potential larvivoracity to evolve an appropriate biological intervention strategy against the immature stages of malaria vectors. Methods: During 2003 (pre-tsunami) and 2014-2016 (post-tsunami), an ecological descriptive survey was carried out in the water bodies around Car Nicobar Island. Fishes were captured using fishing nets and cast nets; and placed in plastic jars and preserved in formalin solution. Fishes were identified and classified according to the available keys. Their abundance and data on the current conservation status was recorded and analyzed. Their potential larvivoracity was graded according to their feeding intensity. Results: Pre-tsunami, a total of 27 larvivorous fish species belonging to 11 orders, 23 families and 23 genera were identified. Order Perciformes and the family Cyprinidae were the most ascendant group constituting 51.9 and 11.1%, respectively. While, 80.8% of species were preferred to inhabit the freshwater region, only 37% of species were surface feeders (SF). According to the conservation, assessment and management plan (CAMP, 1998), 44.4% species were at lower risk least concern (LRlc), while 55.6% species were at least concerned (LC) as per the IUCN, 2017 categorization. However, after the tsunami, 17 fish species had gone extinct and 10 fish species were found to remain alive in the local water bodies. Interpretation & conclusion: Post-tsunami, the larvivoracity analysis indicated that Ophicara aporos, Ophiocara procephala, Valamugil seheli, Channa punctata, Kuhlia rupestris, Khulia mugil, and Terapon jarbua possess high-level larvivorous potentiality in nature and are recommended for vector control in the study area. These fish species were facing several anthropogenic threats, such as human interference, loss of habitat, trade, overexploitation, and fishing. Therefore, it is important to protect the water bodies from external impact and implement the conservation strategies. Further, periodic fish fauna surveys, identification of breeding sites, scale-up the larvivorous potentiality at the field level, creating public awareness through health education on establishment of larvivorous fish ponds and planning for mass rearing of the native fish species should be adopted as part of vector management approach in the endemic malarious region of Car Nicobar Island.

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