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Global Distribution of Freshwater Megafauna

Global Distribution of Freshwater Megafauna

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The map depicts the global distribution of 207 freshwater megafauna species, including 130 fishes, 44 reptiles, 31 mammals and 2 amphibians. Fifty-four per cent of all freshwater megafauna species are threatened due to intense human pressure as high exploitation and increasing threats from dam construction.


Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
Freie Universität Berlin

see also:

He, F., Bremerich, V., Zarfl, C., Geldmann, J., Langhans, S.D., David, J.N., Darwall, W., Tockner, K. & Jähnig, S.C. (2018) Freshwater megafauna diversity: Patterns, status and threats. Diversity and Distributions. https://doi.org/10.1111/ddi.12780 (link)

Carrizo, S.F., Jähnig, S.C., Bremerich, V., Freyhof, J., Harrison, I., He, F., Langhans, S.D., Tockner, K., Zarfl, C. & Darwall, W. (2017) Freshwater Megafauna: Flagships for Freshwater Biodiversity under Threat. BioScience, 67: 919–927, https://doi.org/10.1093/biosci/bix099 (link)

with support provided by: BioFresh project and SMART



Fengzhi He email, Sonja C. Jähnig, Vanessa Bremerich and William Darwall


Fengzhi He email
Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries
Müggelseedamm 310
12587 Berlin

Related Publications

  • He, F., Zarfl, C., Bremerich, V., Henshaw, A., Darwall, W., Tockner, K. and Jähnig, S. C. (2017), Disappearing giants: a review of threats to freshwater megafauna. WIREs Water, 4: e1208.
  • Geldmann, J., Joppa, L., & Burgess, N. (2014). Mapping change in human pressure globally on land and within protected areas. Conservation Biology, 28, 1604-1616.
  • IUCN. 2016. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2016.1. (5 May 2016; www.iucnredlist.org)
  • Leader-Williams, N., Dublin, H.T. (2000) Charismatic megafauna as ‘flagship’ species. In: Entwistle A., Dunstone N. (eds) Has the Panda had its day? Future priorities for the conservation of mammal diversity. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, pp 53–81
  • Vörösmarty, C. J., Green, P., Salisbury, J., & Lammers, R. B. (2000). Global water resources: Vulnerability from climate change and population growth. Science, 289, 284-288.

base layer references


This study was funded by the Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB), Berlin, Germany and work was supported by the European Commission through EU Erasmus Mundus Joint Doctorate programme - SMART (Science for the MAnagement of Rivers and their Tidal systems) and the BioFresh project (“Biodiversity of Freshwater Ecosystems: Status, Trends, Pressures, and Conservation Priorities”), FP7-ENV-2008, Contract no. 226874.

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