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Do protected areas conserve neotropical freshwater fishes? A case study of a biogeographic province in Venezuela

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Author(s): Rodríguez–Olarte, D. | Taphorn, D. C. | Lobón–Cerviá, J.

Journal: Animal Biodiversity and Conservation
ISSN 1578-665X

Volume: 34;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 273;
Date: 2011;
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Keywords: Aquatic biodiversity | Biogeographic province | National parks | Coastal rivers

ABSTRACT
The effectiveness of protected areas to conserve freshwater fishes is limited because these areas are not usually congruent with regional patterns of fish species richness and distribution. We compared the richness, distribution and abundance of coastal freshwater fishes in a biogeographic province of Venezuela to determine their conservation status. We also estimated the relevance of existing protected areas in conserving fishes in different physiographic units and tributaries by evaluating species richness and distribution. The ichthyofauna (72 spp., ~30% endemic, ~10% threatened) was distributed according to orography, drainage and physiographic units. Most protected areas had limited effectiveness for fish conservation, mainly because they were too small or included only fragments of tributaries or drainages, or because they were located only in highland drainages where species diversity was minimal. To adequately protect freshwater fishes in this province the existing protected areas should be modified and expanded.
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