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Mohamed bin Zayed Species project number 212528182

Global status and conservation of Tucacas killifish: the rarest and most restricted fish in the coastal plains of Venezuela

Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation (Project No. 212528182) - Tucacas killifish - Awarded $8,300 on April 27, 2022

A project where we combine habitat and population studies with outreach and training for the conservation of Tucacas killifish.

The Tucacas killifish was described from a small region in the lowlands of the Tocuyo and Aroa rivers in the western coastal drainages of Venezuela. This annual fish is benthopelagic and lives in isolated rainwater pools (lentic and shallow environments with dense aquatic vegetation on the margins). These habitats are temporary ponds or swamps in gallery forests, ecotones in lowland plains created in the rainy season. These persist for a few months before drying up completely. These aquatic environments are very important, since they retain energy, nutrients and water that will be used by the ecosystem, its plants and fauna. However, these habitats are not common and are being progressively destroyed in large areas by the expansion of the agricultural, mining and tourist frontier.

With a few exceptions, the distribution of the Tucacas killifish is one of the smallest and most geographically restricted in the continental drainages of Venezuela. The region has been widely sampled, but this species is found in very few localities. We still do not know if the distribution of these Tucacas killifish is underestimated due to the ephemeral nature of their habitat, which disappears in the dry season. Therefore, to cover this information gap, it is necessary to apply sampling with appropriate techniques and times.

This project is sponsored by the Regional Fish Collection of the Universidad Centroccidental Lisandro Alvarado (http://www.ucla.edu.ve/museopeces/) with the participation of researchers and students from the Unversidad Nacional Experimental de los Llanos Occidentales Ezequiel Zamora (UNELLEZ), Universidad Bolivariana de Venezuela (UBV) and the Instituto Nacional de Parques (INPARQUES). The objectives proposed in this project are:

Objective 1. To conduct a assessment of habitat of Tucacas killifish.

Objective 2. Determine the global status of the distribution and populations of the species.

Objective 3. Develop a training workshop for the monitoring of aquatic environments and the conservation of fish in the region.

Selected references that support this project:

Hrbek, T., D. C. Taphorn y J. E. Thomerson. (2005). Molecular phylogeny of Austrofundulus Myers (Cyprinodontiformes: Rivulidae), with revision of the genus and the description of four new species. Zootaxa 825: 1-39.

Rodríguez-Olarte, D., Amaro, A., Coronel, J., & Taphorn B, D. C. (2006). Integrity of fluvial fish communities is subject to environmental gradients in mountain streams, Sierra de Aroa, north Caribbean coast, Venezuela. Neotropical Ichthyology, 4, 319-328.

Rodríguez-Olarte, D., Taphorn, D. C., & Lobón-Cerviá, J. (2011). Do protected areas conserve neotropical freshwater fishes? A case study of a biogeographic province in Venezuela. Animal Biodiversity and Conservation, 34(2), 273-285.

Taphorn, DC and Rodriguez-Olarte, D., (2015) Pez anual de Tucacas, Austrofundulus leohoignei, En: JP Rodriguez, A. Garcia-Rawlins and F. Rojas-Suarez (eds.) Red Book of Venezuelan Fauna. Fundación Empresas Provita y Polar, Caracas.

Marrero, C., Rodriguez-Olarte, D., Botello, A. V., Villanueva, S., Gutiérrez, J., & Rojas, G. J. L. (2017). Los humedales costeros venezolanos en los escenarios de cambios climaticos: vulnerabilidad, perspectivas y tendencias. Vulnerabilid ad de las zonas costeras de Latinoamerica al cambio climatico. UJAT, UNAM, UAC, 476.

Rodríguez-Olarte, D., Marrero, C. & Taphorn, DC. (2018). Capítulo 4 (págs: 71-102). In: Rodríguez-Olarte, D. (Ed). Ríos en riesgo en Venezuela. Vol 2. Colección de Recursos Hidrobiológicos de Venezuela. Universidad Centroccidental Lisandro Alvarado. Venezuela.

Project documents