Key Outcomes

  • The Western Ghats hotspot, originally designated for its plant species, is confirmed as a globally significant centre of diversity and endemism for freshwater species
  • Close to 16% of the 1,146 freshwater taxa assessed are threatened with extinction, with a further 1.9% assessed as Near Threatened. Approximately one-tenth of species were assessed as Data Deficient
  • Within the Western Ghats, catchments in the southern part of the region in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and southern Karnataka have the highest freshwater species richness and levels of endemism, but also contain the highest number of threatened species
  • Although many protected areas are located within or near areas of the richest freshwater diversity, the southern Western Ghats region also experiences the highest level of threat to freshwater species
  • The northern Western Ghats region within Maharashtra has a lower recorded freshwater diversity than the southern region. Although this trend supports the expected relationship between species richness and rainfall, the lower diversity is probably due to inadequate surveys in the freshwater ecosystems of the west flowing rivers of the northern Western Ghats.
  • Aquatic plants and fishes are the most heavily utilized freshwater groups in the Western Ghats. Twenty-eight percent of aquatic plants are harvested for medicinal purposes, and 14% and 13%, as food for people and animals, respectively. More than half of all fish species are harvested for human consumption, and a growing percentage (37%) of species are captured for the aquarium trade. Eighteen percent of mollusc species are used as food for humans
  • The main threats impacting freshwater biodiversity in the Western Ghats include pollution (with urban and domestic pollution ranking as the worst threats followed by agricultural and industrial sources of pollution), species use (including fishing and collection for the aquarium trade), residential and commercial development, dams and other natural system modifications, alien invasive species, agriculture and aquaculture, energy production and mining