Biodiversity Data Journal : Data Paper (Biosciences)
Data Paper (Biosciences)
Fish occurrence in the Kuban River Basin (Russia)
expand article infoOleg Artaev, Andrey Pashkov§, Dmitriy Vekhov§, Maksim Saprykin|, Maksim Shapovalov|, Marina Levina, Boris Levin‡,¶,#
‡ Papanin Institute for Biology of Inland Waters Russian Academy of Sciences, Borok, Russia
§ Azov-Black Sea branch of “VNIRO” (“AZNIIRKH”), Rostov-on-Don, Russia
| Research Institute for Complex Problems at Adyghe State University, Maykop, Russia
¶ Zoological Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences, Saint-Petersburg, Russia
# Cherepovets State University, Cherepovets, Russia
Open Access



This publication describes a dataset containing information on 1328 occurrences of fishes in the Kuban River Basin, the longest river of Northern Caucasus and representing its own freshwater ecoregion (428 Kuban Ecoregion). All observations have precise geo-referencing with the names of water bodies (rivers, lakes etc.). The dataset is based on both literature data (509 occurrences) and our own sampling (814 occurrences). Observations were carried out between 1889 and 2020.

New information

The majority (> 61%) of occurrences in the presented data are published for the first time. This extended dataset contributes significantly to fish fauna survey in the Kuban River ecoregion.


fish fauna, database, Kuban River, Sea of Azov, Caucasus


Ichthyofauna of the Kuban River system is comprised of three groups: the species also inhabiting other European rivers, the species inhabiting brackish waters of the Azov Sea and migrated to the Kuban, as well as by the endemic species found only in the Kuban Basin. The fish fauna of the Kuban River Basin is one of the most distinct amongst river basins of European Russia. In total, 94 fish species have been recorded in the Kuban Basin (Bogutskaya and Naseka 2002, Abell et al. 2008, our data) including 11 endemic species and evolutionary significant units: Alburnoides kubanicus Bănărescu, 1964, Barbus kubanicus Berg, 1912, Chondrostoma kubanicum Berg, 1914, Eudontomyzon cf. mariae (Berg, 1931), Gobio kubanicus Vasil'eva, 2004, Petroleuciscus aphipsi (Aleksandrov, 1927), Phoxinus sp., Ponticola cf. constructor (Nordmann, 1840), Romanogobio parvus Naseka et Freyhof, 2004, R. pentatrichus Naseka et Bogutskaya, 1998, Sabanejewia kubanica Vasil'eva & Vasil'ev, 1988 (Naseka 2010) (see photographs of some Kuban endemic fish species in Fig. 1). All endemic fish species are listed in the dataset presented.

Figure 1.  

Photographs of some endemic fish species of the Kuban Basin: A Alburnoides kubanicus (Kudako River); B Barbus kubanicus (Ubin River); С Petroleuciscus aphipsi (Il' River). Scale bar - 1 cm. Photographs by Oleg Artaev.

The Middle Kuban River is considered an important place for the conservation of freshwater fishes in the Caucasus (Freyhof et al. 2020). The Kuban Basin is a separate ecoregion (428 in Abell et al. 2008), fish fauna of which is distinct from other ecoregions of the Caucasus. The native fauna is also clearly distinct from that of Don (ecoregion 427), which is geographically close, but has a different geological history (Bogutskaya and Hales 2021). In addition to new occurrence records, the dataset presented contains information on the type localities of the endemic species with data on museum numbers of type specimens. The basin of the Kuban River is located in Northern Caucasus, a highly populated region with developed agriculture. High anthropogenic activity resulted in numerous alien fish invasions, some of which are now naturalised. Most of the alien species are from East and South-eastern Asia [Ctenopharyngodon idella (Valenciennes, 1844); Hypophthalmichthys molitrix (Valenciennes, 1844); Hypophthalmichthys nobilis (Richardson, 1845); Oryzias sinensis Chen, Uwa & Chu, 1989; Pseudorasbora parva (Temminck & Schlegel, 1846)], North America [Gambusia holbrooki Girard, 1859; Ictalurus punctatus (Rafinesque, 1818); Ictiobus bubalus (Rafinesque, 1818); I. cyprinellus (Valenciennes, 1844); I. niger (Rafinesque, 1819); Piaractus brachypomus (Cuvier, 1818); Polyodon spathula (Walbaum, 1792); Rocio octofasciata (Regan, 1903)] and a few species from Africa [Oreochromis aureus (Steindachner, 1864) and O. mossambicus (Peters, 1852)] (Moskul 1998, Moskul et al. 2012). The fish fauna of the Kuban Basin has been studied for a long time (e.g. Aleksandrov 1927, Berg 1949, Sukhanova and Troitskiy 1949, Tamanskaya and Troitskiy 1957, Troitskiy and Tsunikova 1988), but few publications contained data for certain localities. The goal of the study was to collect comprehensive data on occurrences of the Kuban fish species and to make these data available using GBIF (Artaev et al. 2021). The information on species distributions can be used by ichthyologists, ecologists, conservation biologists and managers of areas of nature protection.

Sampling methods

Study extent: 

The dataset contains information on 1328 occurrence records (one species in a definite place at a definite time) of 63 taxa, 58 of which were identified at species level, while six taxa were identified at generic level. The occurrences were recorded between 1889 and 2020. The study area is ~ 57900 km2.

Sampling description: 

Occurrences retrieved from literature are based mainly on data from the fish elevator of the Krasnodar Reservoir (Akseleva 2017, Polin and Strelchenko 2018, Mischenko 2019, Polin and Strelchenko 2019). Our data are based on fish sampling using various fishing gear (frame net, seine net, gill net and cast net).

Quality control: 

Each observation contains fundamental information, such as locality (coordinates), date, name of water body, name of observer and name of identifier. Geographical latitude/longitude coordinates for the majority of localities were obtained using hand-held GPS devices, while coordinates for localities extracted from literature and those missing coordinates were determined using the Google Maps service. Species were identified, based on morphological characters (Berg 1949, Bogutskaya and Poznyak 1994, Naseka and Bogutskaya 1998, Naseka and Freyhof 2004, Vasil'eva et al. 2004).

Step description: 

First, we analysed published data on fish records. Second, we added our data on fish occurrences.

Geographic coverage


All occurrences were recorded within the Kuban River Basin which drains the North-western Caucasus and discharges into the Azov Sea and within the Large Stavropol' irrigation canal draining the the eastern part of the Kuban Basin and parts of the Kuma and Terek Rivers (both belong to Caspian Sea drainage – Fig. 2; the three most eastern localities out of the Kuban Basin belong to the Large Stavropol irrigation canal) and the upper part of Stavropol' canal discharging waters to the Manych-Don system. The length of the Kuban River is 870 km and watershed area is ca. 57900 km2. The Basin can be subdivided into three geographical zones: highlands, submontane and lowlands. The main drainage area is the northern slopes of the Caucasus with 2600 mm precipitation (Kupriyanov 1973). Lower reaches of the Kuban are located in agricultural landscapes and a significant volume of the Kuban water is taken for irrigation. There is one reservoir on the Kuban River, the Krasnodar Reservoir, located in its lower reach. This is the largest reservoir in the Northern Caucasus. It was built at 1973 with an area around 400 km2; its length is 46 km and 8-11 km wide (Pogorelov and Laguta 2019). Climate is mild in the middle and lower reaches of Kuban Basin with sub-zero daily temperature only during December-March (Kupriyanov 1973).

Figure 2.  

Map of sampling sites in the Kuban River Basin. Map was created in ArcGIS 10.8 software ( Author's data are designated by the red circles, while literature data are designated by yellow circles.


43.23 and 45.76 Latitude; 36.77 and 42.33 Longitude.

Taxonomic coverage


The dataset contains information on 63 taxa, of which 57 were identified at the species level and six at the genus level (Table 1). The species detected belong to 47 genera, 18 families and two classes. A few taxa need further commentaries on their taxonomic status. Individuals identified as Rutilus rutilus (Linnaeus, 1758) were replaced by R. lacustris (Pallas, 1814) according to results from genetic studies (Levin et al. 2017, Artaev et al. 2021). For a long time, the Kuban was thought to be home to only one Barbus species, endemic to the Kuban system, B. kubanicus. A recent genetic study (Levin et al. 2019) revealed that the upper reach of the Abin River, a left tributary of the Kuban River, is additionally inhabited by B. tauricus with hybridisation observed between these Barbus spp.

Table 1.

Occurrences of fish taxa in the Kuban Basin represented in the dataset.

Taxa Number of occurrences
Acipenser gueldenstaedtii Brandt & Ratzeburg, 1833 1
Acipenser nudiventris Lovetsky, 1828 1
Acipenser ruthenus Linnaeus, 1758 21
Acipenser stellatus Pallas, 1771 6
Huso huso (Linnaeus, 1758) 1
Oreochromis aureus (Steindachner, 1864) 4
Rocio octofasciata (Regan, 1903) 3
Alosa immaculata Bennett, 1835 8
Alosa maeotica (Grimm, 1901) 7
Alosa tanaica (Grimm, 1901) 17
Sabanejewia kubanica Vasil'eva & Vasil'ev, 1988 30
Abramis brama (Linnaeus, 1758) 53
Alburnoides kubanicus Banarescu, 1964 85
Alburnus alburnus (Linnaeus, 1758) 73
Alburnus leobergi Freyhof & Kottelat, 2007 37
Barbus Daudin, 1805 16
Barbus kubanicus Berg, 1912 47
Blicca bjoerkna (Linnaeus, 1758) 39
Carassius auratus (Linnaeus, 1758) 20
Carassius Jarocki, 1822 31
Chondrostoma kubanicum Berg, 1914 12
Ctenopharyngodon idella (Valenciennes, 1844) 18
Cyprinus carpio Linnaeus, 1758 33
Gobio caucasicus Kamensky, 1901 21
Gobio Cuvier, 1816 67
Gobio holurus Fowler, 1976 1
Gobio kubanicus Vasil'eva, 2004 1
Leucaspius delineatus (Heckel, 1843) 3
Leuciscus aspius (Linnaeus, 1758) 32
Leuciscus idus (Linnaeus, 1758) 1
Pelecus cultratus (Linnaeus, 1758) 35
Petroleuciscus aphipsi (Aleksandrov, 1927) 45
Petroleuciscus borysthenicus (Kessler, 1859) 1
Phoxinus Rafinesque, 1820 17
Pseudorasbora parva (Temminck & Schlegel, 1846) 7
Rhodeus amarus (Bloch, 1782) 17
Romanogobio parvus Naseka & Freyhof, 2004 1
Romanogobio pentatrichus Naseka & Bogutskaya, 1998 2
Rutilus lacustris (Pallas, 1814) 87
Scardinius erythrophthalmus (Linnaeus, 1758) 13
Squalius cephalus (Linnaeus, 1758) 71
Vimba vimba (Linnaeus, 1758) 29
Esox lucius Linnaeus, 1758 17
Pungitius platygaster (Kessler, 1859) 3
Knipowitschia Iljin, 1927 1
Neogobius fluviatilis (Pallas, 1814) 31
Pomatoschistus Gill, 1863 2
Ponticola cf. constructor (Nordmann, 1840) 9
Proterorhinus semipellucidus (Kessler, 1877) 4
Proterorhinus Smitt, 1900 13
Ictalurus punctatus (Rafinesque, 1818) 15
Planiliza haematocheila (Temminck & Schlegel, 1845) 2
Barbatula barbatula (Linnaeus, 1758) 28
Gymnocephalus cernua (Linnaeus, 1758) 21
Perca fluviatilis Linnaeus, 1758 48
Sander lucioperca (Linnaeus, 1758) 57
Sander volgensis (Gmelin, 1789) 5
Eudontomyzon cf. mariae (Berg, 1931) 1
Gambusia holbrooki Girard, 1859 6
Salmo labrax Pallas, 1814 4
Piaractus brachypomus (Cuvier, 1818) 1
Silurus glanis Linnaeus, 1758 31
Syngnathus abaster Risso, 1827 15

The connection of the Kuban system with the Kuma and Terek riverine systems via the Large Stavropol' irrigation canal, as well as with the Manych-Don system via the Nevinnomysk irrigation canal, may facilitate exchange of fish fauna as exemplified by B. kubanicus occurrences in the Manych system (Poznyak 1987). We consider the Prussian carp as Carassius auratus (Linnaeus 1758) species complex since its taxonomic status is still under debate (Wouters et al. 2012, Rylková et al. 2013, Vekhov 2013, Šimková et al. 2015).

Temporal coverage


Data can be divided into three periods: i) 1889-1911 - data on the type localities of endemic species of the Kuban Basin; ii) 1974-2001 - data on the occurrences solely from literature sources; and iii) 2003-2020 - author's data and further literature data.

Usage licence

Usage licence: 
Creative Commons Public Domain Waiver (CC-Zero)

Data resources

Data package title: 
Fish occurrences in the Kuban River Basin
Alternative identifiers: 
Number of data sets: 
Data set name: 
Fish occurrence in the Kuban River Basin
Data format: 
Darwin Core

Dataset is a compilation of data as a contemporary faunistic research (2003-2020) and literature data (1974-1987) with indication of locality.

Column label Column description
occurrenceID The Globally Unique Identifier number for the recored.
basisOfRecord The specific nature of the data record: HumanObservation.
eventDate date format as YYYY-MM-DD.
scientificName The full scientific name including the genus name and the lowest level of taxonomic rank with the authority.
kingdom The full scientific name of the kingdom in which the taxon is classified.
phylum The full scientific name of the phylum or division in which the taxon is classified.
class The full scientific name of the class in which the taxon is classified.
order The full scientific name of the order in which the taxon is classified.
family The full scientific name of the family in which the taxon is classified.
decimalLatitude The geographic latitude of location in decimal degrees.
decimalLongitude The geographic longitude of location in decimal degrees.
Country The name of the country (Russia).
countryCode The standard code for the country in which the Location occurs.
individualCount The number of individuals represented present at the time of the Occurrence.
year Year of the event was recorded.
month The month of the event was recorded.
day The integer day of the month on which the Event occurred.
recordedBy A person or group responsible for recording the original Occurrence.
identifiedBy A list of names of people, who assigned the Taxon to the subject.
locality The specific description of the place.
associatedReferences Bibliographic reference of literature associated with the Occurrence.
coordinatePrecision A decimal representation of the precision of the coordinates given in the decimalLatitude and decimalLongitude.
catalogNumber An identifier (unique) for the record within the dataset or collection (only for type specimens).
occurrenceRemarks Comments or notes about the Occurrence - what types of specimens were caught in this place.
identificationRemarks Comments or notes about the Identification - what Latin name was given when describing a species from this locality.
institutionCode The name (or acronym) in use by the institution having custody of the object(s) or information referred to in the record.
geodeticDatum The ellipsoid, geodetic datum or spatial reference system (SRS) upon which the geographic coordinates given in decimalLatitude and decimalLongitude are based.
identificationQualifier A brief phrase or a standard term ("cf.", "aff.") to express the determiner's doubts about the Identification.
taxonRank The taxonomic rank of the most specific name in the scientificName.
taxonRemarks Comments or notes about the taxon or name.

Author contributions

Oleg Artaev - investigation, dataset preparation, original draft preparation; Andrey Pashkov - investigation, Dmitriy Vekhov - investigation; Maksim Saprykin - investigation; Maksim Shapovalov - investigation; Marina Levina - investigation; Boris Levin - investigation, original draft preparation, editing.