ⓘ List of freshwater fauna of Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is an island close to the southern end of India with a tropical environment. The freshwater fauna is as large a ..


ⓘ List of freshwater fauna of Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is an island close to the southern end of India with a tropical environment. The freshwater fauna is as large as it is common to other regions of the world. There are about two million species of arthropods found in the world, and still it is counting with many new species still being discovered. It is very complicated and difficult to summarize the exact number of species found within a certain region.


1. Freshwater habitats

Freshwater animals are important to the economy of a country. The animal life in freshwater comprises a great diversity. The organisms ranging from tiny protozoa to large mammals in size. Sri Lanka is a hydraulic civilization. First civilizations in Sri Lanka were originated closer to main rivers in Sri Lanka such as Mahaweli, Kelani, Malwathu and Gin Ganga. Rivers in Sri Lanka flow in a radial pattern, from central hills where there are numerous waterfalls, the rivers flowing to the west, east and south being shorter than thoe flowing to north., north west and north east. Several streams join these rivers. Some of the streams in the hill country and mid country are quick flowing streams known as torrential streams.

Sri Lankan freshwater habitats can be divided into 6 major types - river, stream, lake, pond, villu and paddy field - according to size, depth, rate of flow and type of bottom. Medium-sized rivers are called Oya and fast flowing streams torrential streams are called Dola in Sinhalese. The following list provide the freshwater fauna of Sri Lanka.


2. Adaptations of freshwater fauna

The life history of any animal is divisible into 3 phases, initially a period of slow development, followed by a rapid growth with a voracious apetite and finally to an adult which breeds at regular intervals and continue to grow slowly. Most freshwater animals breed during or after monsoon rains where water is available for the young to spread over a wide area where crowding is less and there is a plentiful supply of food in the form of minute plants and animals.

During dry season, conditions in temporary habitats become less and less favourable for aquatic animals. Those cut off in small habitats are quickly killed off, others in larger habitats survive longer. During this period, food become scarce and water level reduces. Animals become weakened or diseased and die or are eaten by birds and terrestrial animals. Many freshwater animals show adaptations to drought conditions. Fish with air breathing ability, utilize atmospheric oxygen to moisten gills, mud burrowing ability are some of them. Smaller crustaceans, produce eggs with hard resistant covering capable of surviving even a severe drought. These cysts are blown by wind and the species is dispersed. Freshwater crabs and prawns carry their eggs until they hatch out, while leeches carry the young in a pouch.


3. Researches on Sri Lankan freshwater fauna

Knowledge of Sri Lankan freshwater fauna has been considerably enhanced in the last twenty years or so in two ways. One is through the publication of monographs. The other way is through Swedish Expedition and Smithsonian Institution. Several animals groups were identified extensively from Sri Lanka, such as fish, amphibians, odonates and arthropods. Other freshwater fauna of Sri Lanka need more detailed work, which are currently based on the notes of way back in British period. According to The National Red Data List in 2012, many freshwater habitats are degraded at an alarming rate due to rapid human interference. Habitat destruction, fragmentation and loss of forest cover has increased in past decade rapidly. The result becomes severe, where many amphibians have been not recorded after their discovery, which led the scientists to categorize Sri Lanka as an biodiversity hotspot.


4. Flatworms

Phylum: Xenacoelomorpha Order: Acoela

Family: Convolutidae

  • Convoluta anotica

Phylum: Platyhelminthes Order: Rhabdocoela

Family: Scutariellidae

  • Monodiscus parvus
  • Monodiscus macbridei
  • Caridinicola platei

Family: Typhloplanidae

  • Strongylostoma radiatum
  • Mesostoma ehrenbergii

Phylum: Platyhelminthes Class: Trematoda Order: Plagiorchiida

Family: Pleurogenidae

  • Pleurogenoides sitapuri

Phylum: Platyhelminthes Class: Cestoda Order: Bothriocephalidea


5. Roundworms

Phylum: Nematoda Class: Enoplea Order: Dorylaimida

Family: Dorylaimidae

  • Dorylaimus sp.

Class: Chromadorea Order: Rhabditida

Family: Camallanidae

  • Zeylanema kulasirii
  • Procammallanus planoratus
  • Zeylanema anabantis
  • Zeylanema sweeti
  • Zeylanema pearsi
  • Zeylanema mastacembeli
  • Procammallanus spiculogubernaculus
  • Zeylanema fernandoi

6. Segmented worms

Phylum: Annelida

Family: Aeolosomatidae

  • Aeolosoma ternarium

Class: Clitellata Order: Haplotaxida

Family: Naididae

  • Dero zeylanica
  • Pristina proboscidea
  • Limnodrilus hoffmeisteri
  • Bothrioneurum iris
  • Aulophorus michaelseni
  • Dero digitata
  • Allonais paraguayensis
  • Chaetogaster sp.
  • Aulophorus tonkinensis
  • Pristina breviseta

Family: Glossiphoniidae

  • Placobdella ceylanica
  • Dinobdella ferox
  • Limnatus paluda
  • Placobdella undulata
  • Paraclepsis vulnifera
  • Placobdella emydae

Order: Arhynchobdellida


7. Molluscs

Phylum: Mollusca Class: Gastropoda Order: Cycloneritida

Family: Neritidae

  • Septaria reticulata
  • Septaria livesayi
  • Septaria squamata
  • Theodoxus perotetiana

Order: Caenogastropoda

Family: Pachychilidae

  • Faunus ater
  • Melanoides crenulata
  • Melanoides tuberculata
  • Melanoides lineata
  • Melanoides broti
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