2 Newly Discovered Amazonian Fish Species Threatened by Deforestation

Two newly discovered species of Amazonian fish are facing imminent extinction due to deforestation, a new study warns.

Both fish – commonly called South American darters – could disappear if the Brazilian government does not take immediate action, scientists say.

They were found in the Amazon rainforest, about 40 kilometers north of the Brazilian city of Apuí, during an expedition between 2015 and 2016.

pTwo newly discovered species of Amazonian fish are facing imminent extinction due to deforestation, warns a new study.  (Matthew Newby/Zenger)/p
Two newly discovered species of Amazonian fish are facing imminent extinction due to deforestation, a new study warns. (Matthew Newby/Zenger)

Unfortunately, the Apuí region has the second highest rate of deforestation, according to pre-pandemic estimates.

The more colorful species is especially vulnerable as it has only been found along 1.5 miles of a single stream.

The author Dr. Murilo Pastana of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in the United States said: “It was exciting to find new species.

“But in the countryside, we saw the forest on fire, logging trucks carrying huge trees and deforested areas turned into cattle pasture.

“This made us feel very urgent to document these species and publish this paper as soon as possible.”

Nets and traps were used to collect fish from streams as the researchers camped along a road called AM-174.

Ironically, many of the roads they used to access previously inaccessible parts of the jungle were created by deforestation.

Pastana said: “We went to taste places that have never been visited by scientists.

“This area is very important because this is one of the frontiers where deforestation is moving north – the frontier between the new cities and the native forest.”

All specimens captured by the researchers were photographed, cataloged and preserved for further study.

A new species with vivid orange-red fins and a distinctive dark spot right in front of its tail has been discovered along the edges of a so-called blackwater creek, where tannins leached from fallen leaves make the water brown.

Males have even more colorful and sporty dorsal fins, which can reach half their body length – just over an inch.

Amazon deforestation
A drainage pond sits in a tin mine in a deforested section of the Amazon rainforest on June 26, 2017, near Itaú do Oeste, Brazil. Mining is one of the many causes of deforestation in the Amazon.
Images by Mario Tama/Getty

They could only be found in the same stream when researchers returned in 2016 and scoured the surrounding area.

Another species was discovered swimming between tree roots that protruded from the banks of muddy water streams.

The fish, nicknamed P. rhizophilusit is yellow, with males showing dark stripes on the dorsal and rear fin.

The researchers classified it as miniature, a term used to describe species that measure just under an inch in length.

Genetic testing confirmed that both fish were closely related, bringing the total number of species in their subfamily Crenuchinae to five.

It is the first time a species has been added to this group since 1957.

The trade in exotic aquarium fish could also threaten new species that are in high demand, the researchers say.

Pastana said: “Losing any one of these species would be like losing priceless masterpieces.

“You would miss everything about those species.”

The results were published in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society.

This story was provided to Newsweek by Zenger News.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.