by Editor on July 25, 2009

One Of Many Vanishing Amazon Fish Species

The Arowana Is One Of Many Vanishing Amazon Fish Species.Photo:Wikimedia Commons

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Today’s Wildlife News & Wild Animal Facts

The New York Times has a front-page story this morning quoting members of a major indigenous Amazon rainforest tribe, the Kamayurá, as saying that fish stocks in the Amazon and its tributaries are dwindling to the point where the tribe faces possible starvation.

The cause of the decline in the Amazon fish species appears to be global climate change, which has made the rainforest and the rivers that run through it both drier and hotter. Rainforest wildfires have now become a common occurrence, The Times says. The article adds that intentional rain forest deforestation also appears to be playing a role.

[Editor’s note: This is a major story–and one on which you can expect a follow-up within the next several weeks. We are particularly interested in the scope of the fish declines –how far beyond the Xingu National Park area they extend.]

Leaders of the tribe, which lives in Xingu National Park (click here for map) say fish populations have fallen so dramatically in their region of the Amazon rainforest that tribal members are now able to swim in lakes that until recently swarmed with piranhas.

It stands to reason that a decline in rainforest fish species severe enough to threaten the indigenous people–in addition to being a human tragedy–would have consequences strong enough to send shock waves through the entire Amazon rainforest food chain, and further jeopardize any top ten endangered species. Species at the top of that rain forest food chain, such as the pink dolphin, (so far not one of the most endangered animals) which feeds on freshwater Amazon fish, cannot help but be profoundly affected.

A note on the photo: the arowana (Osteoglossum bicirrhosum) pictured above, is a member of the Amazon rainforest food chain also known as the “monkeyfish.” Arowanas can grow up to three feet (1 meter) long, and during the rainy season they often cruise through the flooded rainforest until they spot a bird or a bat perched on a branch. They capture such terrestrial prey by leaping into the air to grab them.

To read the full Times story, follow the permalink here.

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