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Inventory, relative abundance and importance of fishes in the Caura River Basin, Bolivar State, Venezuela

Inventory, relative abundance and importance of fishes in the Caura River Basin, Bolivar State, Venezuela

RAP Bulletin of Biological Assessment 28: 64-74, 160-171

Over 21 days (Nov.[long dash]Dec. 2000) we surveyed 65 field stations between Raudal Cejiato and Kakada River in the south to Raudal Cinco Mil in the north of the Caura River Basin. A total of 278 species were identified. The order Characiformes with 158 species (56.8%) was the most diverse, followed by Siluriformes (74, 26.6%), Perciformes (27, 9.7%), Gymnotiformes (9, 3.2%), Clupeiformes (3, 1.1%), Cyprinidontiformes (2, 0.7%), Rajiformes (2, 0.7%), Beloniformes (1, 0.4%), Pleuronectiformes (1, 0.4%) and Synbranchiformes (1, 0.4%). The Family Characidae with 113 species (40.7% of the total) was the most specious. The results add 54 species for the order Characiformes and 39 species of Characidae to previous lists from the basin. For catfishes and electric fishes (Siluriformes, Gymnotiformes) we increased the known species to 72 from 49. While for Perciformes, 27 species are now confirmed, increased from the previous 12. Overall 110 new records were collected for the basin. In the Upper Caura, Salto Para, Raudal Cejiato and Kakada River were the richest and most diverse with several typical Guayanese forms. In the Lower Caura, El Playon, Tawadu-Nichare Rivers and Raudal Cinco Mil, including the Takoto River, possessed high diversity and richness, with numerous species typical of the Llanos and Orinoco River. However, both areas possess their own characteristics in terms of taxonomy, biogeography and conservation importance. A large number of species have potential economic importance as food and ornamental fishes. Only a few species are captured and used by indigenous human populations. Based upon species richness, diversity and relative abundance of the fishes and the dependence of local human populations upon stocks of fishes, certain areas in the Upper and Lower Caura must be protected and preserved as part of a general conservation plan. These areas include Raudal Cejiato, Kakada River, the backwaters and flooded lagoons close to Enterios, the Raudal Suajiditu and the region just above Salto Para, El Playon and surrounding areas, the Nichare and Tawadu Rivers, the flooded lagoons close to Boca de Nichare and the Takoto River near Raudal Cinco Mil.

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