Writer: Laura Muntean, 979-847-9211, email@example.com
Contact: Dr. Joshuah Perkin, 979-458-1814, firstname.lastname@example.org
COLLEGE STATION – Texas A&M University’s Dr. Kevin Conway, Dr. Joshuah Perkin and their team have located an extremely rare find within the waters of the Rio Grande along the U.S. and Mexico border.
The Conchos shiner, Cyprinella panarcys, a fish species identified for the first time on record in the U.S. in April, was found in the mainstream of the Rio Grande at the confluence with Alamito Creek in Presidio County. The discovery was made by Conway, an associate professor and curator of fishes for the department of wildlife and fisheries sciences Biodiversity Research and Teaching Collections at Texas A&M University, and Perkin, an assistant professor of fish ecology for the same department.
Further details are revealed in their newly published article in the Biodiversity Data Journal https://checklist.pensoft.net/article/29309/.
“We found this fish by chance,” said Perkin. “We were conducting a survey for a declining species known as the Rio Grande shiner, Notropis jemezanus, but found none of that species. In fact, it’s quite remarkable that we could find a species never before detected in the U.S. but could not find a single Rio Grande shiner.”
Previously, the Conchos shiner was considered restricted to the upper parts of the Río Conchos drainage in Mexico, extending from the Río San Pedro at Meoqui in Chihuahua, Mexico, to the Río Florido in Durango, Mexico.
It is unique to see the species in other waters. According to Conway, there are two alternatives that could explain the unexpected discovery of the Conchos shiner in Texas.
“Either this species is native to Texas, but its presence has simply gone unnoticed until now, or we were exceptionally lucky and managed to capture a rare vagrant outside of its natural distribution.”
Conway and Perkins are excited to return to the survey area.
“The discovery of the Conchos shiner in the main stem of the Rio Grande downstream from Presidio, an area that is considered to be relatively well studied, tells us that we still have a lot to learn about the fishes within the Rio Grande drainage,” Conway said.
“This system has undergone major changes in recent years, and it is imperative that we learn as much as possible about the system now, specifically the endemic species, so that we can better manage and protect them in the years to come.”
Others involved in the discovery were Amanda Pinion, a doctoral student, and Stephanie George, a graduate student, at Texas A&M.
The post Texas A&M scientists find Mexican endemic fish never identified in U.S. appeared first on AgriLife Today.
COLLEGE STATION – A paper published in the Journal of Applied Ecology by two Texas A&M University scientists warns of impacts to fisheries and fish diversity, stemming from continued deforestation of the Amazon River.
The paper, “Relationships between forest cover and fish diversity in the Amazon River floodplain,” can be read in its entirety here: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1365-2664.12967/abstract. Dr. Kirk Winemiller, Texas A&M AgriLife Research fisheries scientist and Regents Professor in the department of wildlife and fisheries sciences at College Station, and Caroline Arantes, Winemiller’s doctoral student, were the authors.
“The paper reports our findings on relationships between forest cover and fish diversity in the Amazon River floodplains,” Winemiller said.
Arantes reported the Amazon, like most major tropical forest areas of the world, is being systematically cleared for agriculture, human habitation and hydropower development. While viewed as progress by some, permanent species diversity damage could well be the outcome.
“Floodplain forests are key habitats and food producing areas for fish,” she said. “In a pristine forested state, fish thrive on food resources that fall into the water, and survival of many fishes is enhanced by the complex habitats of flooded zones. Deforestation upsets this natural balance developed over time not only to the detriment of the fish population but also to the millions of people relying on many of these species for food.”
Arantes and Winemiller conducted a number of field expeditions to the Lower Amazon River to find how deforestation affects fish diversity. Some species, they noted, may be more sensitive to change than others. Their work centered on fish community structure at sites ranging from densely forested to mostly devoid of tree growth.
“We found fish diversity was directly associated with the amount of forest cover and various environmental factors,” Winemiller said. “Some fish with similar life history, feeding and microhabitat needs are positively associated with forest cover, while others were most common in areas of open water or containing beds of herbaceous vegetation, representative of the deforested areas.”
Arantes reported forested areas supported populations of fish species with diverse ecological strategies, and species with broad ecological tolerance tended to be most abundant in deforested areas. Unfortunately, these generalists tended to have low importance in local fisheries, and most of the high-value species tended to be associated with forested areas.
“The forest provides fruit, seeds, microorganisms and other food resources that are important in aquatic food webs of the Amazon River floodplains. To flourish, some fish species may even require resources originating from the forest, so when the forest is removed, these species decline or disappear,” she said.
“In Brazil there are protected areas, but these were designed to conserve terrestrial species,” she said. “Very few areas have been reserved to protect fish stocks in the Lower Amazon River, and none are located within our study area.
“Our findings, together with those from several other recent studies, illustrate the benefits of forest cover in the Amazon for conservation of the region’s rich fish diversity that is so important for regional food security.”