The Amazon basin concentrates the highest freshwater biodiversity on earth. This is especially true for fishes, which, with around 2,400 species already recognized, represent 15% of all freshwater fishes described worldwide. The processes having generated this highly diverse fish fauna are incompletely understood. However, the diversity in aquatic habitats and the relative stability in favorable climatic conditions - over several millions of years - are most probably involved.
There is rising evidence that, since the last centuries, the rapid expansions in infrastructure and economic activities are impacting the structure and function of Amazonian freshwater ecosystems. Climate change will probably amplify these disturbances, producing negative effects on fish communities.
AMAZON FISH is a transnational collaborative project that officially started on November 2015 for a three years period, supported by ERANetLac, a bi-regional partnership in Science, Technology and Innovation, involving the European Union (EU) and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).
AMAZON FISH aims to build a high quality freshwater fish biodiversity database covering the entire Amazon drainage basin. This is done by mobilizing and integrating information available in scientific literature. A data management plan is developed to ensure that conditions for reuse and public release of the resulting database are properly documented, taking into account concerns and needs of the project partners.
During the project, sampling gaps will be identified and field studies organized to fill those gaps, as far as possible, in order to get the most up to date and comprehensive coverage.
A Geographic Information System (GIS) including all environmental factors meaningful in explaining fish species distribution is linked to the biological database. Basin-wide biogeographic analyses will be performed at multiple spatial grains using species richness, endemism and beta diversity descriptors. This will allow defining degrees of irreplaceability and representativeness of the different communities (i.e. “hotspots”). Future climate projections under the four IPCC scenarios for years 2050 and 2080 will be further derived from the most commonly used ultimate GCMs and consequent shifts in species range distribution and species extinctions will be evaluated. Expected results will also help defining relevant areas of work for the “Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services » (IPBES) at the local, national and regional levels.
The AMAZON FISH consortium comprises institutions with extensive experience and international recognition, complementary expertise and interests, and strategic aims in the field of Amazonian fish biodiversity. At this time, the consortium includes researchers from the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD) in France, from the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Unidad de Ecología y Sistemática (UNESIS), in Colombia, from the Departamento de Ictiología, Museo de Historia Natural, Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos, in Peru and from the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS).
The consortium also benefits from official collaborations with researchers from other National institutions from Brazil (i.e. INPA, Universidade Federal de São Paulo (UNIFESP) and Universidade Federal do Pará, Ecuador (i.e. Museo Ecuatoriano de Ciencias Naturales (MECN)) and Bolivia (i.e. Universidad Mayor de San Simon; Universidad Mayor de San Andres; Universidad Autónoma del Beni).
All these partners bring into the project existing fish biodiversity databases and a large networking capacity that will be of essential importance for identifying and involving other potential data providers.