The Catfishes of the Apure River Floodplain: What Do We Really Know About this Exploited Community?

Gabriela Echevarría Díaz

The aim is to produce relevant information about the catfish communities structures and their relations with their habitats in order to indentify opportunities for minimizing the negative impact of the fisheries on their sustainable exploitation.

A pond and has a sample of the avian diversity of the area.

A pond and has a sample of the avian diversity of the area.

Catfishes of the Apure River are a resource of great value, with 19 species commercially exploited. They face threats from habitat destruction that are consequence of agricultural activities. Besides, there is not enough knowledge about the catfishes and their relations with their environments, which is contributing to an inadequate management by local fishermen. The purpose of this project is to identify the variables that intervene in the structuration of catfish communities in the different habitats of the Apure River floodplain through a hydrological cycle as well as to identify the most important habitats for the species to complete their life cycles.

El Totumo, one of the  floodplain lakes that is part of my study.

El Totumo, one of the floodplain lakes that is part of my study.

Fish samplings will be conducted during four seasons of a hydrological cycle: low waters, growing waters, high waters and falling waters in the main channel of the Apure River, as well as in secondary channels, floodplain lakes and flooded savannas and forests. Together with the fish samplings, water physical and chemical parameters will be measured with a multiparametric probe. This information will be combined with geographic variables for the statistical analyses. The species diets and reproductive aspects will be studied and several morphometric traits will be measured to identify the relations of the catfishes with their environments.

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The proposed project will serve to generate information about the biology and ecology of these species, particularly about their reproductive biology, diet and environmental requirements. The knowledge obtained through the execution of this project will be used to prepare different informative materials that will be available to researchers, conservationists, fisheries managers and the community in general. The new information is expected to lead to the improvement of the catfish population management, because this will be based on a better understanding of the catfish species biology and ecology and their relationships with their aquatic environment. Recommendations for a better, more scientific based catfish species and habitats management will be drawn that will be made available to the stake holders in the fisheries management in the website Fishes of the Apure River, with the information gathered from the execution of the project. With the help of the website and the social media, the new knowledge will be available to a bigger number of people, and will contribute to their education and awareness about the importance of catfishes and their conservation.

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