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Status and distribution of the pumpkinseed sunfish ( Lepomis gibbosus ) in Bulgarian water bodies. A historical overview of his spread and recent status of the populations. Boris Velkov*, Apostolos Apostolou*. * Department of Hydrobiology Institute of Zoology
(Lepomis gibbosus) in Bulgarian water bodies. A historical
overview of his spread and recent status of the populations.
Boris Velkov*, Apostolos Apostolou*
* Department of Hydrobiology
Institute of Zoology
Bulgarian Academy of Sciences
Year of establishment
1955 - 1960
1965 - 1970
1970 - 1975
1975 - 1980
1980 - 1985
1985 - 1990
1990 - 2000
The first observation of the pumpkinseed the Svishtov marsh around 1920 (Drensky, 1920)
Danube River – the invasion highway
Since that time (and probably earlier) the pumpkinseed is present in Danube (Borcea I., 1933-1934, Drensky,1951; Marinov,1966).
About 30 – 40 years later new locations started to appear. All of them are Danube’s on-line marshes (Drensky,1951; Bulgurkov, 1958), tributaries (Karapetkova , 1972;Karapetkova and Unjian, 1988) and a reservoire (Karapetkova , 1972) .
Danube tributaries located further upstream were later found to contain pumpkinseed approximately simultaneously (Karapetkova and Dikov, 1986; Karapetkova, 1994).
After the western and the central part of northern Bulgaria were invaded by the species, came probably the first record from the Southern Bulgaria – Ovcharitsa Reservoir (Zivkov and Grupcheva, 1987).
The spread south from the Balkan/Haemus Mountain Proceeded in constantly increasing rates and many vectors. Struma/Strimon R. (Vassilev and Pehlivanov, 2002), Mesta/Nestos R. (Apostolou, 2005; pers. comm.), Arda/Ardas R. (Pehlivanov, 2000; Steffanov and Trichkova, 2004). The first observation of the pumpkinseed in Maritsa/Evros R. and Tundja R. in the literature in unclear, according to many personal communications with colleagues and fisherman however the period is the same (in 80s and 90s).
Probably the area, which was most recently included in the areal is North-Eastern part of Bulgaria (pers. observ., pers. comm.). Although close in Geographic terms it is very isolated hydrologically, with low density of river network, low number of standing water bodies and rivers, running dry in summer.
The latest Bulgarian watershed invaded by the pumpkinseed was Black Sea watershed,
except Kamchiya River probably (Vassilev, M. 1999). Here also Isolation between the watersheds played role. There are no published materials, concerning pumpkinseed in Black Sea rivers and Lakes, except Kamchia R.. Personal communications revealed that the pumpkinseed recently invaded many of the Black Sea lakes, Shabla, Durankulak (Stefanov, pers. comm.), Varna and Bourgas lakes, Mouths of almost all of the Black sea rivers for example.
Probably the last rivers, where the fish is not present yet are the southernmost Veleka and Rezovska.
All plane- and middle-mountain reservoirs
Mountain lakes (Smolyan Lakes)
Black Sea coastal lakes
Huge majority of the microdams (approx. 1500 in Bulgaria).
The majority of Danube tributaries, Aegean and Black sea rivers
(middle and lower stretches).
Mouths of larger Black sea Rivers, Black Sea coastal lakes
Not present in:
The majority of high altitude reservoirs and Lakes (Smolyan lakes) exceptional
Upper and usually middle stretches of the rivers
Standing water bodies which run dry periodically
Some controlled water bodies used for aquaculture
Marshes and microdams :
Riverine habitats are not typical for the
Lower and middle stretches of larger rivers
however can provide suitable conditions
and were found to contain pumpkinseeds.
The accomplishment of the entire life
cycle of this species in rivers is doubtful,
because of spawning and incubation
requirements and the vulnerability of larvae
Although ripe fish were found in riverine habitats, actual breeding was not confirmed so far in rivers.
High mortality rates among young-of-
The-year sunfishes were found as result of floods, during years with low and moderate discharge (Jennings and Phillip1994).
Furthermore in rivers pumpkinseeds are found more often in locations below or next to standing waters, connected to the river.
Pumpkinseed and bluegill sunfish (close congener of the pumpkinseed) were found to be rather sedentary in lotic Environments(< 100m relocation in three month) (Gatz et al. 1994)
On rare occasion however they can move up- and downstream at distances as long as
True Riverine populations (breeding successfully in rivers) actually have not been confirmed so far. The fish originate from the adjacent standing waters
Rivers however are extremely important as a corridors for movement and transportation especially when floods or high waters occur.
Before 1994 no pumpkinseed was present
in the River of Mesta / Nestos (Apostolou, pers.comm.)
In 1997 and 2005 fish samples were
collected near the city of Gotse Delthev.
During both of the samplings abundant pumpkinseed populations were found.
MESTA / NESTOS RIVER
Yasen 1 and 2
St. kladenets res.
The samples from Mesta/Nestos were collected from the on-line micro dam, next to the river and in the river below the micro dam.
Species composition of the catch from Mesta/Nestos River near the city of Gotse Delchev, South-western Bulgaria
Both samples had the pumpkinseed dominating.
Other numerous species were perch, which is translocated to the river, false harlequin– another alien species, roach and chub.
Below 500 m downstream the micro dam we did not find pumpkinseed sunfish.
Mean size of the fish was larger in 2005, than in 1997 (93.7 vs. 73.6 mm)
A highly probable explanation is the “youth” of the population in 1997, therefore
composed by younger and respectively smaller fish.
SIZE GROUP, mm
SIZE GROUP, mm
locations in Bulgaria
ST. KLADENETS RES.
STANDARD LENGTH, mm
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