A new fish based multi-metric assessment index for cold-water streams of the southern Caspian Sea Basin in Iran

  • Hossein MostafaviEmail author
  • Azad Teimori
  • Rafaela Schinegger
  • Stefan Schmutz


Numerous riverine ecosystems in Iran are currently suffering due to various human activities, which are directly affecting the physico-chemical conditions of running waters and influencing the aquatic biota. In this study, we chose the cold-water streams of the Southern Caspian Sea Basin in Iran to analyse human pressures and develop a multi-metric fish index for the cold-water streams dominated by brown trout, Salmo trutta in this Basin. To do this, the fish and environmental data were sampled in 67 medium sized streams in the Caspian Mountains. In total, nine fish metrics were calculated. Moreover, 27 criteria describing major anthropogenic pressures for the entire sampling area were used to generate a regional pressure index that accounted for potential effects of multiple human pressures. For the index development, we first defined reference sites and then quantified differences of fish metrics between the reference and impacted sites. The multiple linear regressions were used for describing metric responses to natural environmental differences in the absence of any human pressures. Finally, by testing the ability of each metric for discrimination of impacted and reference sites as well as their sensitivity to a gradient of regional pressure index, the metrics density of brown trout and biomass of sub-adult brown trout explained human pressures best. Our multi-metric fish index performed well in discriminating between reference and impacted sites, giving a significant negative linear response to a gradient of regional pressure index. In general, the development of such an index offers an opportunity to enhance national bio-monitoring programmes in Iran.


Multi-metric fish index Regional pressure index Salmo trutta Iran 



The Ministry of Sciences, Research and Technology of Iran awarded a scholarship to Hossein Mostafavi (first author). Part of this work was funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF, Predictive Index of Biotic Integrity for running waters of Iran, contract number P 23650-B17). Special thanks are given to A. Melcher‎, M. Bakhtiyari, F. Pletterbauer‎, ‏G. Unfer, H. Liaghati, A. Abdoli, S. Vatandost, E. Fataei, D. Moghadas, K. Abbasi, G.H. Amiri Ghadi and H. R. Bagherpour for their support during our field sampling in Iran and in Vienna. We also thank C. Mielach and T. Cassidy for editing the text. The research presented in this manuscript been approved by an Animal Care or Ethics Committee of Shahid Beheshti University.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Bio-diversity and Ecosystem Management, Environmental Sciences Research InstituteShahid Beheshti UniversityTehranIran
  2. 2.Department of Water, Atmosphere and Environment, Institute of Hydrobiology and Aquatic Ecosystem ManagementUniversity of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU)ViennaAustria
  3. 3.Department of Biology, Faculty of SciencesShahid Bahonar University of KermanKermanIran

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