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Revista de Biología Tropical

On-line version ISSN 0034-7744Print version ISSN 0034-7744


VELEZ-ESPINO, Luis A. Distribution and habitat suitability index model for the Andean catfish Astroblepus ubidiai (Pisces: Siluriformes) in Ecuador. Rev. biol. trop [online]. 2006, vol.54, n.2, pp.623-638. ISSN 0034-7744.

In conservation biology there is a basic need to determine habitat suitability and availability. Astroblepus ubidiai (Siluriforms), the only native fish in the highlands of Imbabura province in the Ecuadorian Andes, was abundant in the past in the Imbakucha watershed and adjacent drainages, but currently it is restricted to a few isolated refuges. Conservation actions are needed if this unique fish is to persist. A Habitat Suitability Index (HSI) for the species has been developed in order to aid management decisions. In this HIS model biomass density (B) was selected as a better indicator of habitat quality than either abundance or density. A population well-being index (PI) was constructed with the combination of B and an indicator of fish health (proportion of fish in the population with parasites and deformities). Based in other models of benthic fish the habitat variables current velocity, flow, depth, width, cover, invertebrate composition, vegetation type, terrestrial vegetation, land use, substrate, temperature, pH, TDS, oxygen, altitude, and slope were included in the analysis. An anthropogenic perturbation index (H) and a fragment isolation index (FII) were developed and included as habitat variables as well. The HSI model was applied to refuges and a sample of 15 aquatic bodies without fish populations within the study region. From the sampled sites without A. ubidiai 26.6% presented low quality, and the remaining 73.3% had medium quality according to the HSI estimated. Good quality habitat for dispersal, escape or translocations is rare in the region. The low HSIs estimated in some of the refuges suggests that current populations are not settled in the most favorable habitat but in the habitat least favorable to the agents of decline. Rev. Biol. Trop. 54(2): 623-638. Epub 2006 Jun 01.

Keywords : Astroblepus ubidiai; preñadilla; habitat suitability; habitat inventory; fragmentation.

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