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Mahseer (Tor spp.) fishes of the world: status, challenges and opportunities for conservation

  • Pinder, Adrian C.1, 2
  • Britton, J. Robert1
  • Harrison, Andrew J.1, 2
  • Nautiyal, Prakash3
  • Bower, Shannon D.2, 4
  • Cooke, Steven J.5
  • Lockett, Steve2
  • Everard, Mark2, 6
  • Katwate, Unmesh7
  • Ranjeet, K.8
  • Walton, Sam9
  • Danylchuk, Andy J.10
  • Dahanukar, Neelesh11
  • Raghavan, Rajeev2, 12
  • 1 Bournemouth University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Poole, Dorset, UK , Poole (United Kingdom)
  • 2 Mahseer Trust, Freshwater Biological Association, Wareham, Dorset, UK , Wareham (United Kingdom)
  • 3 Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna Garhwal University, Department of Zoology and Biotechnology, Srinagar, Uttarakhand, India , Srinagar (India)
  • 4 Uppsala University, Campus Gotland, Natural Resources and Sustainable Development Group, Visby, Sweden , Visby (Sweden)
  • 5 Carleton University, Fish Ecology and Conservation Physiology Laboratory, Department of Biology, Ottawa, ON, Canada , Ottawa (Canada)
  • 6 University of the West England, Coldharbour Lane, Frenchay Campus, Bristol, UK , Bristol (United Kingdom)
  • 7 Bombay Natural History Society Hornbill House, Opp. Lion Gate, Shaheed Bhagat Singh Road, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India , Mumbai (India)
  • 8 Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies (KUFOS), Department of Aquatic Environment Management, Kochi, India , Kochi (India)
  • 9 Rimba, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia , Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia)
  • 10 University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Environmental Conservation, Amherst, MA, USA , Amherst (United States)
  • 11 Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Pune, India , Pune (India)
  • 12 Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies (KUFOS), Department of Fisheries Resource Management, Kochi, India , Kochi (India)
Published Article
Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries
Publication Date
May 02, 2019
DOI: 10.1007/s11160-019-09566-y
Springer Nature


The mahseer fishes (Tor spp.) represent an iconic genus of large-bodied species of the Cyprinidae family. Across the 16 recognised species in the genus, individual fish can attain weights over 50 kg, resulting in some species being considered as premier sport fishes. Tor species also generally have high religious and cultural significance throughout South and Southeast Asia. Despite their economic and cultural importance, the status of Tor fishes has been increasingly imperilled through their riverine habitats being impacted by anthropogenic activities, such as hydropower dam construction and exploitation. Moreover, conservation efforts have been constrained by knowledge on the genus being heavily skewed towards aquaculture, with considerable knowledge gaps on their taxonomy, autecology, distribution and population status. Whilst taxonomic ambiguity has been a major constraint on conservation efforts, this has been partially overcome by recent, robust taxonomic revisions. This has enabled revision of the IUCN Red List status of Tor fishes; three species are now assessed as ‘Near Threatened’, one ‘Vulnerable’, three ‘Endangered’ and one ‘Critically Endangered’. However, eight species remain ‘Data deficient’. Here, information on these 16 Tor fishes is synthesised for the first time, outlining the current state of knowledge for each species, including their known distributions and population status. For each species, the outstanding gaps in knowledge are also identified, and their population threats and conservation prospects outlined. Consequently, this review provides the basis for researchers to challenge and enhance the knowledge base necessary to conserve these freshwater icons in an era of unprecedented environmental changes.

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