Freshwater lampreys and fishes in the Middle East


  • Erdoğan Çiçek
  • Hamid Reza Esmaeili
  • Golnaz Sayyadzadeh
  • Adib Saad
  • Sevil Sungur
  • Laith Jawad
  • Soheil Eagderi
  • Bahadır Çapar
  • Brian W. Coad
  • Ronald Fricke


Herewith, the current status of the freshwaters ichthyofauna in the Middle East is revised, and a checklist of the freshwater lampreys and fishes is presented. The confirmed freshwater fishes comprise 715 species belonging to 27 orders, 54 families, and 162 genera. Among these, 485 species (67.9%) are endemic to the Middle East and 51 species (7.1%) are alien. The orders with the largest numbers of species in the ichthyofauna of the Middle East are the Cypriniformes (464 species, 64.9%), followed by the Gobiiformes (52 species, 7.3%), Cyprinodontiformes (46 species, 6.4%), Salmoniformes (28 species, 3.9%), Siluriformes (25 species, 3.5%), Cichliformes (20 species, 2.8%), and Clupeiformes (18 species, 2.5%). At the family level, the Leuciscidae has the greatest number of species (157 species; 22.0% of the total species), followed by Cyprinidae (142 species), and Nemacheilidae (105 species), Gobiidae (50 species), Aphanidae (38 species), and Cobitidae (33 species). According to IUCN Red List criteria, among 664 naturally distributed species (alien species not included), six fish species are extinct (EX), one species extinct in the wild (EW) and 130 species (19.6%) are categorised as threatened extinctions, including 38 (5.7%) are CR, 56 (8.4%) are EN, and 36 (5.4%) are VU. IUCN cetagories have not been evaluated (NE) for over one third of the species (257 species).