The Huchen or Danube Salmon is one of the most enigmatic species of Europe's freshwater fauna. It is a sensitive indicator species for some of the most ecologically valuable rivers in the Danube drainage. Historically, the species was wide-spread across the entire Danube basin. Since the late 19th century, however, Huchen populations declined by two thirds and the remaining populations are now highly endangered by hydropower development. But knowledge on the distribution of the Huchen on the Balkan Peninsula has been incomplete.
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Within the context of the international campaign “Save the Blue Heart of Europe”, 18 scientists from 7 countries explored for the first time, in which rivers between Slovenia and Montenegro the Huchen can still be found. The results clearly show that the Balkan rivers constitute the last big hot spot for this species. Self-sustaining populations of Huchen were found in 43 rivers with a total length of 1,842 kilometres. This corresponds to 65 percent of all known Huchen stretches worldwide.
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