2 Newly Discovered Amazonian Fish Species Threatened by Deforestation

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

Both fish — commonly referred to as South American darters — could disappear if the Brazilian government doesn’t take immediate action, scientists say.

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

Two newly discovered parts of Amazon fish are in danger of extinction due to deforestation, a new study warns. (Matthew Newby/Zenger)

Unfortunately, the Apuí region has the second highest deforestation rate by pre-pandemic estimates.

The more colorful species is particularly vulnerable, as it has only been found along 2.5 miles of a single stream.

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 field, we saw the forest on fire, logger trucks transporting huge trees, and cleared areas turning into cattle pasture.

“This made us feel a great urgency to document these species and get this article published as soon as possible.”

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

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

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

“This area is very important because this is one of the frontiers where deforestation moves north — the boundary between new towns and native forest.”

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

A new species with vibrant red-orange fins and a distinctive dark spot just in front of its tail was discovered along the edges of a so-called black water stream, where tannins leached from fallen leaves turn the water coffee-colored.

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 is located in a tin mine in a deforested part of the Amazon rainforest on June 26, 2017, near Itaua do Oeste, Brazil. Mining is one of the many causes of deforestation in the Amazon.
Mario Tama/Getty Images

They weren’t found in the same stream until the researchers returned in 2016 and combed the area.

Another species was discovered swimming among tree roots protruding from the banks of muddy, watered streams.

The fish, called P. rhizophilusis yellow, with males having dark stripes on their dorsal and hind fins.

Researchers categorized 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 since 1957 that a species has been added to this group.

The exotic aquarium fish trade may also threaten the new species that are highly sought after, the researchers say.

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

“You would lose everything about these species.”

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

This story was provided to Newsweek by Zenger News.

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