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Freshwater fish faunas, habitats and conservation challenges in the Caribbean river basins of north-western South America: FRESHWATER FISHES OF NORTH-WEST SOUTH AMERICA


Abstract and Figures

The remarkable fish diversity in the Caribbean rivers of north-western South America evolved under the influences of the dramatic environmental changes of neogene northern South America, including the Quechua Orogeny and Pleistocene climate oscillations. Although this region is not the richest in South America, endemism is very high. Fish assemblage structure is unique to each of the four aquatic systems identified (rivers, streams, floodplain lakes and reservoirs) and community dynamics are highly synchronized with the mono-modal or bi-modal flooding pulse of the rainy seasons. The highly seasonal multispecies fishery is based on migratory species. Freshwater fish conservation is a challenge for Colombian environmental institutions because the Caribbean trans-Andean basins are the focus of the economic development of Colombian society, so management measures must be directed to protect aquatic habitat and their connectivity. These two management strategies are the only way for helping fish species conservation and sustainable fisheries.
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Journal of Fish Biology (2016) 89, 65101
doi:10.1111/jfb.13018, available online at
Freshwater sh faunas, habitats and conservation
challenges in the Caribbean river basins of north-western
South America
*Universidad de Antioquia, Calle 67 No. 53-108, Medellín, Colombia, Universidad Nacional
de Colombia, Carrera 25 No. 61-20, A-201, Bogotá D.C., Colombia, §Universidad del
Atlántico, Km 7 Antigua vía Puerto Colombia, Barranquilla, Colombia, Universidad
Católica de Oriente, Carrera 46 No. 40b 50, Rionegro, Colombia, Empresas Públicas de
Medellín, Carrera 58 42-125, Medellín, Colombia, **Universidad Nacional de Colombia-Sede
Medellín, Calle 59A No. 63-20, Medellín, Colombia, ††Universidad de Bogotá Jorge Tadeo
Lozano, Carrera 4aNo 22-61, Bogotá, Colombia and ‡‡Fundación Verdes Horizontes,
Carrera 25 No. 61-20, A-201, Manizales, Colombia
The remarkable sh diversity in the Caribbean rivers of north-western South America evolved under
the inuences of the dramatic environmental changes of neogene northern South America, including
the Quechua Orogeny and Pleistocene climate oscillations. Although this region is not the richest
in South America, endemism is very high. Fish assemblage structure is unique to each of the four
aquatic systems identied (rivers, streams, oodplain lakes and reservoirs) and community dynamics
are highly synchronized with the mono-modal or bi-modal ooding pulse of the rainy seasons. The
highly seasonal multispecies shery is based on migratory species. Freshwater sh conservation is a
challenge for Colombian environmental institutions because the Caribbean trans-Andean basins are the
focus of the economic development of Colombian society, so management measures must be directed
to protect aquatic habitat and their connectivity. These two management strategies are the only way
for helping sh species conservation and sustainable sheries.
© 2016 The Fisheries Society of the British Isles
Key words: Caribbean trans-Andean Rivers; sheries; freshwater shes; threats to conservation.
The river basins of northern South America vary widely in their climatic and hydro-
logical conditions, and their geomorphology and soil matrix reveals a dramatic history
of land transformations millions of years ago. Some efforts have already been made to
group them into geographic units using landscape, vegetation type, climate, precipita-
tion, altitude and faunal composition (Hernández-Camacho, 1992; IGAC, 2003).
In South America, Colombia is second, after Brazil, in number of sh species
(Maldonado-Ocampo et al., 2008); however, if the species per unit area of the two
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed: Tel.: +57 4 2195620; email:
© 2016 The Fisheries Society of the British Isles
countries is considered, Colombia is the most diverse. This remarkable sh diversity
is the result of a dynamic geological history caused by plate tectonics, the uplift
of the Andean mountains, marine incursions during the Pleistocene period and the
land-bridge connections with the North America fauna after the rise of the Panama
Isthmus. The long isolated trans-Andean sh fauna is highly endemic, with ancestral
links with the Amazon and Orinoco ichthyofaunas (Rodríguez-Olarte et al., 2011).
Since its separation from the Gondwana continent c. 100 million years ago, aquatic
systems of northern South America evolved from a proto Amazon-Orinoco river that
drained eastward to the western Atlantic to a set of basins that drains to the Caribbean,
because of the rise of various branches of the western, central and eastern Andes
cordilleras, and the Venezuela and Merida branches. Glacial and interglacial periods
of the Pleistocene, caused changes in the sea level and the advance and withdrawal
of salt water into the lowland freshwater systems. Elevation of sea level during the
warmer periods may have generated massive extinctions of freshwater biota and also
the connection of the oodplains of all of these northern basins leading to the potential
dispersion of freshwater faunas along the coast (Rodríguez-Olarte et al., 2011).Today,
the interaction between the Andean mountains and the movement of water vapour
inside the inter-tropical convergence zone (ITCZ), their altitudinal gradients and soil
types caused those north-western basins to have different characteristics of rainfall,
hydrology and water production. Additionally, land use by humans has become
a permanent inuence on freshwater habitats and it has become a threat to biota
conservation. A new extinction period, the Anthropozoic period already began.
Since the 1990s, scientic knowledge about the Colombian sh fauna has
been growing. Checklists have recently been published (Mojica et al., 2006a,b;
Maldonado-Ocampo et al., 2008; Álvarez-León et al., 2013), biogeographic anal-
yses (Rodríguez-Olarte et al., 2011), sheries and biology (Lasso et al., 2011a,
b; Usma-Oviedo et al., 2013), threats to its conservation (Galvis & Mojica, 2007;
Barletta et al., 2010; Baptiste et al., 2010; Mojica et al., 2012) and many other short
publications focused on biology and ecology are compiled in Maldonado-Ocampo
et al. (2005), Maldonado-Ocampo et al. (2013), Usma-Oviedo et al. (2013) and
Álvarez-León et al. (2013), and on the use of cytogenetic and molecular techniques
for the assessment of genetic variability are compiled in Mancera-Rodríguez et al.
Here, most of the available knowledge on the sh fauna in some of the river basins of
north-western South America in Colombia draining to the Caribbean sea are reviewed,
to describe species richness, identify life-history patterns, habitat assemblages and the
threats to shes resulting from Colombia’s economic development, and to determine
what is needed to protect the freshwater shes and the associated artisanal sheries.
The Republic of Colombia is located in the north-western corner of South Amer-
ica. It includes a continental area of 1 141 748 km2. Within the Colombian continental
area ve main river basins are recognized: Amazon, Orinoco, Pacic, Catatumbo and
Caribbean. The unit of analyses has followed the basin category and is focused on
the four principal basins north-west of the eastern branches of the Andean mountains:
© 2016 The Fisheries Society of the British Isles, Journal of Fish Biology 2016, 89, 65–101
807876 74 72
Caribbean Sea
Pacic Ocean
F. 1. Map of Colombia and the Caribbean draining trans-Andean River basins. a, Ranchería River; b, Mompo-
sine Depression; c, Magdalena River; d, Cauca River; e, Sinú River; f, Atrato River
Atrato River, Magdalena-Cauca River, Sinú River and Ranchería River (Fig. 1). Table I
shows the characteristics of these river basins.
The Atrato River (528N; 7600W) ows to the north, between the western
cordillera and the Baudó range, and ends in the Caribbean Sea. It is the main river
in the Chocó biogeographic area, owing to the north. Most of the channel is naviga-
ble (500 km; 67% length) and it is one of the largest producers of water in the world.
The mean annual rainfall is 8 000 mm, and air temperatures range between 23 and 30
C. The Atrato River basin has a mono-modal cycle with a rainy season between June
and November, and a dry season from December to May.
T I. Characteristics of some Caribbean basin rivers. Data were taken from Lasso et al.
(2011a,b) and Mojica et al. (2006a,b)
River basin
Characteristic Magdalena Cauca Atrato Sinú Ranchería
Basin area (km2) 262 075 55 599 37 810 18 478 2 338
Maximum altitude (m) 3 685 3 000 3 800 2 300 5 572
Main channel lenght 1 502 1 350 720 336 248
Mean discharge (m3s1) 7 100 2 407 3 993 486 7·8
Hydrologic pattern Bi-modal Bi-modal Mono-modal Mono-modal Mono-modal
Flooding plane area (Ha) 295 756 950·2 65 000 24 340 510
© 2016 The Fisheries Society of the British Isles, Journal of Fish Biology 2016, 89, 65–101
The Sinú River (804N; 7553W) ows to the north-west between the San Jerón-
imo and Abibe ranges, towards to the Caribbean Sea. Half of its course is navigable.
The range of annual rainfall is between 800 and 3000 mm, and air temperatures range
between 18 and 28C. The Sinú River discharge is between 60 and 700m3s1and it
has a mono-modal cycle with a rainy season between June and November and a dry
season from December to May.
The Magdalena-Cauca Basin is the most populated area in Colombia, most (80%)
of the Colombian population inhabits there. The Magdalena River (132N; 7652
W) ows to the north-west through an extensive valley between the eastern and central
cordilleras of the Andes. Below 200 m altitude the valley opens to form an extensive
oodplain and the main channel ows through an extensive oodplain (22 000 km2),
the Momposine depression (906N; 7425W); the Cauca and San Jorge Rivers also
discharge into this depression. The Cauca River runs parallel to the Magdalena River
(113N; 7722W). Between 1500 and 900 m altitude the river valley widens to form
another great oodplain area. After the 900 m altitude, the valley gets narrower and the
river ows north-east through a deep and narrow canyon until the 400 m altitude; at that
point the Cauca valley opens again to form an extensive oodplain area that nally
discharges into the Momposine depression. Beyond this area the Magdalena-Cauca
River ows to the north-west and discharges into the Caribbean Sea (1103N; 74
The Ranchería River is a small coastal river formed in the Sierra Nevada de Santa
Marta Mountains (SNSM) (1131N; 7254W). It ows to the north-east and when
it reaches 99 m altitude (1111N; 7234W), the channel turns to the west and
discharges in the Caribbean Sea. The SNSM is a mountainous massif, isolated from
the Andes and Perijá Cordilleras and its lower areas to the north-west form the beaches
of the Caribbean Sea. It is located in the north of Colombia (1001N; 7236W)
and the mean annual temperature ranges between 10 and 32C. SNSM forms three
drainage areas: Caribbean, west, and east. The Caribbean basin is formed by the rivers
that ow directly to the sea, covers the north face of the mountain massif and includes
18 rivers, including the Ranchería River. The western basin is formed by six rivers that
drain the western slope and discharge into a brackish water – riverine lake connected
with the Magdalena: Ciénaga Grande de Santa Marta. The eastern basin is formed by
tributaries of the Cesar River: the Badillo, Guatapurí, Cesarito, Los Clavos, Diluvio
and Ariguaní Rivers.
Lists of sh species, data for assemblage analyses, information about sheries and
habitat threats were obtained from different sources. The species list was constructed
with published data (Mojica, 2002; Maldonado-Ocampo et al., 2005, 2008, 2013;
Mojica et al., 2006a,b; Ortega-Lara et al., 2006; Villa-Navarro et al., 2006), Natural
History Museum data les (Universidad de Antioquia, Universidad Católica de Ori-
ente, Universidad del Atlántico) and unpublished data from C. García-Alzate (Cesar
River and lower basin of the Magdalena River). Synonyms and actual classication of
sh groups was veried in the online Fish Catalog (Eschmeyer & Fong, 2016).
Data on species assemblages were only obtained for some aquatic systems (creeks
and rivers) in the western and eastern slopes of the Central Andean Cordillera and
© 2016 The Fisheries Society of the British Isles, Journal of Fish Biology 2016, 89, 65–101
the oodplain lakes from the Magdalena River valley between the eastern and central
Cordillera. Data were obtained from three rivers: the Manso and La Miel on the eastern
slope (Magdalena Basin) and the Porce on the western slope (Cauca Basin). La Miel
and Porce Rivers were dammed for hydro-power as well as 15 streams that discharge to
reservoirs Porce II and Porce III (Porce River) and 35 oodplain lakes in the Magdalena
River Valley. Samples were taken according to the climatic season (rains or dry) in
each aquatic system and for at least a 1 year period. Fishes in the oodplain lakes
were captured only during the high water season of the sampled years (2008, 2010
and 2012) because in this period most of the sh species inhabit this aquatic system.
These data were published by Granado-Lorencio et al. (2012a,b), Hernández-Serna
et al. (2014), Jiménez-Segura et al. (2014b) and J. Álvarez-Bustamante (unpublished
data). Unpublished data of the Manso River comes from the monitoring programmes
of ISAGEN S.A. E.S.P., who kindly donated these data.
For analysing sh assemblage data, abundance of each sh species in each aquatic
system was normalized. Frequency of each sh species in each aquatic system was cal-
culated as the number of times that the species appears in the total of samples. Relative
abundance (AR) was multiplied by the sh species frequency for ranking the species
importance in the sh assemblage.
Information about sheries yield of Colombian basins was taken from public reports
of Government Agencies (AUNAP, 2014a,b). Although highly criticized because of
changes to their data recording methods, yield reports were made yearly by these Agen-
cies from 1970 until June 2014. The oldest records came from the Magdalena-Cauca
River Basin and since 2006 records have been taken in all continental basins and marine
systems (Pacic Ocean and Caribbean Sea); sadly, records from 2014 were not avail-
able when we get the data. So for comparing between basins only those years with com-
plete data were used. Reports from Lasso et al. (2011a,b) were also used. Knowledge
about habitat threats to sh fauna were compiled from different sources (unpubl. data).
Species richness and composition
As research advances the number of freshwater sh species in Colombia increases.
Cala (1987, 2001a,b) mentioned c. 20003 000 possible species, Mojica (2002)
838 species, Maldonado-Ocampo et al. (2008) counted 1435 species, and recently
Álvarez-León et al. (2013) found a little more than 1700. For the north-western basins
of the Caribbean Sea, 290 freshwater sh species are listed (Table S1, Supporting
Information). Species are grouped in seven orders and 37 families. The super-
order Ostariophysi dominates with 265 species, with the two most speciose Orders:
Characiformes (134 species; 44% of total) and Siluriformes (117 species, 37%).
Other Orders are Cyprinodontiformes (15 species), Perciformes (eight species) and
Gymnotiformes (13 species). Families with the most species are the Characidae (77
species), Loricariidae (34 species), Trichomycteridae (26 species), Astroblepidae (23
species) and Heptapteridae (11 species). Another eight families are represented just by
one species.
© 2016 The Fisheries Society of the British Isles, Journal of Fish Biology 2016, 89, 65–101
0·1 0·2 0·3 0·4 0·5 0·6 0·7 0·8
Jaccard similarity index
Atrato river
Magdalena-Cauca rive
Sinu river
Rancheria river
Conphenetic correlation= 0·80
F. 2. Similarities in the sh faunas between the Caribbean draining trans-Andean rivers basins. Numbers in
parenthesis are the number of sh species.
Biogeographic regions
Based on sh distributions, Cala (1987) proposed eight biogeographic regions:
Andean altiplano, Atrato River system, Sinú River system, north-western Caribbean
slope and Magdalena River system, Catatumbo River, Orinoco River and Ama-
zonas River. After the analyses of Abell et al. (2008) on freshwater sh distribution
around the world, the Atrato River was joined to North Andean Pacic slopes,
the Magdalena River with the Sinú River and South America Caribbean drainages
were attached to the Trinidad region. Recently, Albert et al. (2011) and Albert &
Reis (2011) further advanced beyond Abell et al. (2008) classication to dene sh
endemism and species densities for 44 South American eco-regions. They found
that although eco-regions in the north of South America are not as diverse as oth-
ers in the Amazonas or Orinoco regions, their sh fauna is highly endemic (50%
The basin classication based on the present analysis of species presence or
absence and has an important co-phenetic correlation value (r=0·80) so, the records
used for the construction of the UPGMA dendrogram were an adequate t. The
relationship between the sh faunas showed two large clusters with low similari-
ties: Magdalena-Cauca and Atrato River basins, and Sinú-Ranchería River basins
(Fig. 2). Twenty two species are widely distributed in the analysed basins. The
Magdalena-Cauca and Atrato basins share 75 species and the Ranchería and Sinú
Rivers share 28 species (Table S1).
© 2016 The Fisheries Society of the British Isles, Journal of Fish Biology 2016, 89, 65–101
Fish species
Altitudinal range (m)
Triportheus spp. GymnotiformesChaetostoma spp.
Astyanax spp. Pimelodus spp.
Astroblepus spp.
Trichomycteridae spp.
F. 3. Fish species number across the altitudinal range and endemism percentages in the Magdalena-Cauca River
basin, and some of the key species along the altitudinal range. , endemism percentage; , number of sh
species. Modied from Jiménez-Segura et al. (2014a).
Altitudinal zonation
The number of sh species in the basin of the Magdalena-Cauca River changes along
the altitudinal gradient showing the highest value at lower elevations (Jiménez-Segura
et al. 2014a; Carvajal-Quintero et al., 2015). Even though the number of species is
reduced as the altitude increases, the ß diversity value is high (Carvajal-Quintero et al.,
2015) and the percentage of endemic species is the highest of the analysed basins
(Fig. 3).
Altitudinal distribution of the sh fauna along the river beds in the Andes is
inuenced by the slope, speed and water temperature (Jaramillo-Villa et al., 2010;
Carvajal-Quintero et al., 2015) and the height of the water column; these physical
characteristics of the aquatic systems result in the formation of an altitudinal zonation
of sh assemblages. Aquatic ecosystems of the Magdalena River between 5 and 100m
altitude (i.e. swamps or oodplain lakes) are habitat for 62 species; between 100 and
300 m the number of species reaches 92 and assemblages up to 2300 m may have
between three and six species. Dominant species in the assemblages between 5 and
100 m altitude are Cyphocharax magdalenae (Steindachner 1878), Pimelodus blochii
Valenciennes 1840, Triportheus magdalenae (Steindachner 1878), Hyphessobrycon
proteus Eigenmann 1913, Prochilodus magdalenae Steindachner 1879, Hoplosternum
magdalenae Eigenmann 1913 and Astyanax magdalenae Eigenmann & Henn 1916.
As altitude increases, the Andean rivers assemblage changes and other species
become abundant, such as Chaetostoma spp.,Andinoacara latifrons (Steindachner
1878), Astyanax spp., Bryconamericus spp. and Creagrutus magdalenae Eigenmann
1913. Between 200 and 700 m, Brycon henni Eigenmann 1913 and the genera
Astroblepus,Trichomycterus and Lebiasina characterize the sh fauna.
Although the number of species in the assemblage is negatively correlated with
altitude, this pattern is disrupted over some altitude ranges. Stretches of the channel
© 2016 The Fisheries Society of the British Isles, Journal of Fish Biology 2016, 89, 65–101
between 100 and 300 m altitude are the richest in species. These stretches are highly
heterogeneous and different aquatic environments can be found: small streams, creeks,
rivers with wide and deep channels with an extensive lateral oodplain, and large
lowland lakes (Jaramillo et al. 2015a) that are repeatedly ooded and connected
during the two seasons of yearly oods. Although the variety of aquatic environments
in these stretches may be the cause of most species richness, this is a hypothesis that
needs to be veried.
As the altitude increases, the water temperature decreases and water speed increases,
resulting from the increased slope of the channel (Lewis, 2008). These conditions
cause changes in the composition of the sh species assemblage: small species that
have developed body structures and depressed body forms that allow them to live
in such rife-pool, shallow environments are more frequent. In the aquatic habitats
in the altitudinal range between 1000 and 1800 m, there are between 20 and 30
species. Characins like B. henni and species of the genus Creagrutus,Astroblepus
and Trichomycterus are typical. Assemblages over 1800 m are poor in species with
Eremophilus mutissi Humboldt 1805, Lebiasina narinensis Ardila Rodriguez 2002 and
Grundulus species found most frequently. The sucking mouth disc and strong pectoral
and pelvic ns of the Astroblepidae and Loricariidae families are the most obvious
characteristics associated with the type of aquatic environment that these bottom
species inhabit (Maldonado-Ocampo et al., 2005; Carvajal-Quintero et al., 2015).
Aquatic habitats and their sh assemblages
The sh assemblages in the Magdalena-Cauca Basin are unique to each aquatic sys-
tem in the basin. Each aquatic system has a different number of sh species; reservoir
systems were the poorest and the river systems in the low lands were the richest in
species number. In every aquatic system, 70% of the relative abundance is represented
by at least 13 species, all different in each of the aquatic systems (Table II). Inter-
estingly, B. henni was present in all the systems of the western slope of the Central
Cordillera, although its abundance and frequency was not high in the reservoirs or in
the eastern drainages of this basin.
The following sh species were the most representative of the sh fauna in the
Andean streams: B. henni, Guacuco catshes of the genus Astroblepus,A. latifrons
armoured catshes Chaetostoma spp. and the tetra Bryconamericus caucanus Eigen-
mann 1913 comprised most of the total abundance. Habitat characteristics of these
Andean streams are very distinctive. The longitudinal slope of the channel is almost
30% so it forms a serial of cascades, rifes and pools than offer unique conditions for
each sh species. The streams are surrounded by at least a gallery forest fringe that
is the food source for most of the species that inhabit the streams because it offers
seeds, insects and other invertebrates. Also, the rocky substratum favours the growth
of microorganisms in the biolm, one of the most important foods for detritivore
sh species. As previously discussed, Astroblepus and Chaetostoma species also
have body structures that let them attach to the rocky substratum during the ushing
discharges of rainy seasons and during dry seasons, individuals of Trychomycteridae
spp. and Lebiasina spp. dig into the humid bedrock layer awaiting the arrival of the
rains (López-Casas S., pers. observ.); research on these sh strategy is needed.
In the reservoirs on the Porce River, some of the sh species of the original river
assemblage have persisted. Just one sh species, Astyanax microlepis Eigenmann 1913,
comprised 78% of total abundance. Other native species such as H. magdalenae and A.
© 2016 The Fisheries Society of the British Isles, Journal of Fish Biology 2016, 89, 65–101
T II. Dominant species in each aquatic system in the two slopes of the Andean Central Cordillera. Species in bold form 70% of relative numerical
abundance (AR) and frequency (F)
Central Andes Cordillera
Western Slope: Cauca River Basin Eastern Slope: Magdalena River Basin
Andean Creeks
(550– 900 m)
Dammed River Channel
(650– 900 m) Reservoirs (590 –900 m)
River channel
(200– 700 m)
Dammed River Channel
(145– 200 m)
Floodplain lakes
(70– 215 m)
1Brycon henni Andinoacara latifrons Astyanax microlepis Chaetostoma cf. leucomelas Creagrutus brevipinnis Cyphocharax magdalenae
2Astroblepus unifasciatus Poecilia caucana Hoplosternum magdalenae Creagrutus brevipinnis Gephyrocharax melanocheir Caquetaia kraussii
3Astroblepus trifasciatus Brycon henni Andinoacara latifrons Hemibrycon spp. Crossoloricaria variegata Roeboides dayi
4Andinoacara latifrons Poecilia reticulata Roeboides dayi Prochilodus magdalenae Astyanax liferus Centrochir crocodili
5Chaetostoma cf. leucomelas Astyanax microlepis Coptodon rendalli * Astroblepus guentheri Astyanax fasciatus Hoplosternum magdalenae
6Bryconamericus caucanus Bryconamericus caucanus Brycon henni Astyanax fasciatus Pseudopimelodus bufonius Ctenolucius hujeta
7Chaetostoma cf. thomsoni Chaetostoma cf. leucomelas Oreochromis niloticus * Argopleura magdalenensis Chaetostoma cf. leucomelas Leporinus muyscorum
8Astroblepus chotae Roeboides dayi Poecilia caucana Trichomycterus striatus Dasyloricaria lamentosa Ageneiosus pardalis
9Hemibrycon dentatus Bryconamericus caucanus Hyphessobrycon spp. Geophagus steindachneri Chaetostoma cf. milesi Dasyloricaria lamentosa
10 Poecilia reticulata Lasiancistrus caucanus Parachromis loisellei * Chaetostoma cf. milesi Chaetostoma cf. thomsoni Hypostomus tenuicauda
11 Astroblepus chapmani Chaetostoma cf. thomsoni Oreochromis mossambicus * Chaetostoma cf. scheri Microgenys minuta Gilbertolus alatus
12 Astroblepus grixalvii Hemibrycon dentatus Leporellus vittatus Saccodon dariensis Saccoderma hastatus Eigenmannia humboldtii
13 Astroblepus micrescens Coptodon rendalli * Chaetostoma cf. scheri Leporinus muyscorum Geophagus steindachneri Pimelodus blochii
14 Oreochromis mossambicus * Parodon magdalenensis Poecilia reticulata Characidium phoxocephalum Astyanax magdalenae Curimata mivartii
15 Hemibrycon boquiae Oreochromis mossambicus * Lasiancistrus caucanus Chaetostoma spp. Prochilodus magdalenae
16 Oreochromis niloticus * Hoplosternum magdalenae Trichomycterus banneaui Pimelodella chagresi Astyanax fasciatus
17 Trichomycterus chapmani Hemibrycon boquiae Astyanax magdalenae Ctenoluccius hujeta Astyanax magdalenae
18 Astroblepus frenatus Xiphophorus hellerii * Parodon magdalenensis Brycon fowleri Andinoacara latifrons
19 Poecilia caucana Chaetostoma cf. scheri Trichomycterus caliense Creagrutus magdalenae Hypostomus hondae
20 Xiphophorus hellerii * Oreochromis niloticus * Chaetostoma cf. thomsoni Lasciancistrus caucanus Sternopygus aequilabiatus
40 38 14 68 91 53
*, an exotic species.
© 2016 The Fisheries Society of the British Isles, Journal of Fish Biology 2016, 89, 65–101
latifrons, are common and abundant. These species are typical of oodplain lakes of the
Magdalena River (Granado-Lorencio et al., 2012a) so the reservoir habitat conditions
may favour their recruitment. Foreign species such as Coptodon rendalli (Boulenger
1897), Parachromis loisellei (Bussing 1989) and Oreochromis spp. were also important
in the reservoir assemblage; they have also been reported in many other reservoirs in
South America (Agostinho et al., 2007). These species are good colonizers of these
articial habitats because they make their nests in the sandy substratum of the reservoir;
they have parental care of their offspring and are mostly omnivores.
The riverine sh assemblage was more diverse than streams or reservoirs. In La
Miel River, downstream of the dam, nine species were the most important in the
sh assemblage: Tetras: Creagrutus brevipinnis Eigenmann 1913, Gephyrocharax
melanocheir Eigenmann 1912, Astyanax liferus (Eigenmann 1913) and Astyanax
fasciatus (Cuvier 1819) and three species of detritivores [Chaetostoma spp., Dasy-
loricaria lamentosa (Steindachner 1878), Crossoloricaria variegate (Steindachner
1879)] and the migratory Prochilodontidae: Bocachico Prochilodus magdalenae
Stenidachner 1879 and the Jetudo Ichthyoelephas longirostris (Steindachner 1879).
This assemblage is seasonally enriched with migratory sh species [Pimelodi-
dae: Pseudoplatystoma magdaleniatum Buitrago-Suarez & Burr 2007, Sorubim
cuspicaudus Littmann, Burr & Nass 2000, Pimelodus spp. and the characiforms
T. magdalenae,Curimata mivartii Steindachner 1878, Cyphocharax magdalenae
(Steindachner 1878)] that move upstream through the Magdalena River from the
oodplain in the lowlands during the dry season. Although the ow in La Miel
River downstream of the dam is inuenced by the water discharge of hydropower
generation, hydro-peaking is damped by the natural ow of its tributaries: the Manso
and Samana Rivers (Jiménez-Segura et al., 2014b; López-Casas 2015). Also, there
are several habitats such as sandy beaches, rocky substratum, pools and rifes that
offer favourable conditions for different sh species. On the other hand, the dammed
channel of the Porce River is species poor if compared with the Manso and La
Miel Rivers and four species are characteristic of the sh assemblage. This is the
result of the isolation of this sector of the river, because the sampling only took
place in the stretch of the Porce River between the discharge of Porce II reservoir
and the main body of the Porce III reservoir. In this sector, due to the lack of sh
pass facilities, there is no possibility of sh species reaching the Porce III reservoir
from downstream, where the ow is free. In this isolated stretch of the river the
substratum is rocky and the ow is mainly inuenced by discharge of hydropower
ows and species typical of riverine systems are found [i.e.B. henni,Chaetostoma
spp., Poecilia reticulata Peters 1859 and Poecilia caucana (Steindachner 1880)] and
from the reservoir (A. microlepis,A. latifrons,C. rendalli and Oreochromis spp.)
(J. Álvarez-Bustamante, unpubl. data).
The oodplain lakes in the northern rivers of South America include almost 5092
(Jaramillo et al. 2015) water bodies with a total surface area of 5332 km2(Ricaurte L.,
unpubl. data) whose limits are lost when the entire oodplain is inundated during high
water. Rains, connectivity with the main river channel, shape (perimeter) and area are
all denitive factors that inuence the sh assemblage and the sheries production. Fish
assemblages are dominated by characiforms and siluriforms. The Characidae, Curi-
matidae, Prochilodontidae and Pimelodidae are the most diverse families. Although
these habitats are not the most diverse (nspecies =53) if compared with the La Miel River
© 2016 The Fisheries Society of the British Isles, Journal of Fish Biology 2016, 89, 65–101
downstream of the dam (nspecies =91), 13 species are characteristic of these aquatic sys-
tems and the importance of iliophagous species as C. magdalenae and P. magdalenae is
remarkable. Other species are also important in the riverine-lake assemblage: the Yel-
low Mojarra Caquetaia kraussii (Steindachner 1878) and migratory sh species such as
Leporinus muyscorum Steindachner 1900, C. mivartii and P. blochii. These oodplain
lakes are an important component of the migratory cycle of some sh species and play
an important role in buffering the highest river discharges in the Magdalena River basin.
These aquatic systems have received much of the scientic research attention
because they are important for sheries sustainability in the Magdalena-Cauca Basin
(Arango-Rojas et al., 2008; Jaramillo-Villa & Jiménez-Segura, 2008; Ríos-Pulgarín
et al., 2008; Jiménez-Segura et al., 2010b; Granado-Lorencio et al., 2012a,b). Cli-
matic seasonality determines the characteristics of the lakes and the behaviour of
the sh fauna is also synchronized with it. Changes in depth, transparency, nutrients,
dissolved oxygen and water temperature are important for habitat and food availability
to shes during the rainy seasons. The sh responses to the change are described
in Jiménez-Segura et al. (2010a). In this sh assemblage there are different groups
of life-history strategies: migrant and non-migrant shes (white and black shes;
Welcomme, 1985). The rst group of shes move between the lake and the river as the
water levels vary and the second group remains in the lakes regardless of this change.
During the dry season, non-migrant sh [i.e. A. latifrons,Synbranchus marmoratus
Bloch 1795, Trachelyopterus insignis (Steindachner 1878) and H. magdalenae] stay
in the lakes. Although little is known about the strategies of these particular species
in these river basins, it is assumed that they may develop strategies similar to those
of their relatives in other basins of South America for breathing air to obtain oxygen,
and can nd food in available habitats in order to survive (Welcomme, 1985; Val
and Randall, 2005). As the rainy season begins, non-migrant shes spawn in the
lake and the inux of river water into the lake triggers the production of plankton,
the main food resource for larvae. Also, as the water level gets high, the growth of
aquatic plants enhances the shelter available for feeding and growth of juvenile sh of
non-migrant and migrant sh species. With the decrease in the intensity of rainfall, the
oodwaters recede, water levels in the lakes drop and the biological cycle starts again
(Jiménez-Segura et al., 2010b). This cycle occurs once in Sinú, Atrato and Ranchería
Rivers (basins with mono-modal hydrological regimen), but in the Magdalena-Cauca
basin occurs twice a year (bi-modal regime).
Although more research is needed on sh biology, some of the described life
strategies conform to the environmental guilds proposed by Welcomme et al. (2006).
There are, however, some important changes in the eupotamonic, pelagophilic and
phytophilic guilds (potamonic communities) proposed, associated with the spawning
and nursery sites. These changes are described.
The sh migrations: the habitat linkage
Potamodromous migration (white sh) is a common strategy of some sh species
in the northern river basins of South America and these movements directly impact
the artisanal sheries. Almost 15% of the sh species in these basins have migratory
behaviour synchronized with the rainy season and mainly associated with spawn-
ing. Of the 15 migratory species living in the Magdalena-Cauca River; most perform
migrations of short (<100 km) or medium lengths (100– 500km) (Usma-Oviedo et al.,
2013). Some of the most famous migratory species in the Magdalena-Cauca River
© 2016 The Fisheries Society of the British Isles, Journal of Fish Biology 2016, 89, 65–101
are P. magdalenae,Brycon moorei Steindachner 1878, Salminus afnis Steindachner
1880, C. magdalenae,T. magdalenae,C. mivartii,L. muyscorum,I. longirostris,
Pimelodus blochii Valenciennes 1840, Pimelodus grosskopi Steindachner 1879,
P. magdaleniatum and S. cuspicaudus. Recent estimations of migration distances
made by López-Casas (2015; submitted to Journal of Fish Biology, May 2015)
show that migrations in the Magdalena-Cauca River are from 0·8 to 1223·0 km long;
individuals of P. magdalenae may swim almost 1224 km, S. afnis from 24 to 130 km
and I. longirostris up to 198km.
Rains and water level are the main cues for migratory movements. The hydrological
cycle in the northern river basins is mainly determined by the ITCZ and its interactions
with the Andes. During the 12 months of the year, some basins (i.e. Atrato, Sinú and
Ranchería Rivers) have 6 months of heavy rain (rainy season) and 6 months of reduced
rain (dry season), but the Magdalena-Cauca Basin is bi-modal and has two rainy
(AprilJune and SeptemberNovember) and two dry seasons (DecemberMarch and
JulyAugust). The rainy cycle of the Magdalena-Cauca is a result of the back and
forth movements across the equator of the ITCZ throughout the year, and the position
of the three cordilleras. During the summer in the northern hemisphere (July and
August) the ITCZ moves to the north, and in December moves to the south. These
two movements of the wet winds over the slopes of the three cordilleras generate this
climatic pattern.
During the last ve decades, knowledge about migration dynamics came from oral
sher information and from sheries report data. Based on 10 years of ichthyoplankton
monitoring in the main channel of the Magdalena River and on migratory routes of
some tagged shes, different phases in the migratory process occur between four main
aquatic systems: oodplain lakes, connection channels between lakes and rivers, main
river channels and tributaries (Fig. 4).
During the dry season, most of the migratory sh (P. magdalenae,T. magdalenae,
C. mivartii and L. muyscorum) move towards the free owing channel because water
conditions in the oodplain lakes became unfavourable (i.e. low dissolved oxygen,
higher water temperatures, area and depth reduction and higher predation). In the rst
phase of the migratory cycle, shes move from the lake to the channel that connects
with the free owing channel; some shes stay in the connection channel and do not
move to the main river. The shes that get out of the lake move to the main river and
begin to move against the ow at the same time that gonad maturation starts (second
phase). As the rainy season begins and the water level rises, the third phase begins:
shes that stayed in the main river channel move to the tributaries to spawn, as do
those that stayed in the tributaries during the dry season. The fourth phase begins
when, as the ows increase, adults and embryos of sh species such as P. magdalenae,
S. cuspicaudus,P. magdaleniatum and Pimelodus spp. drift downstream along the river
channel, as the embryos develop. In the fth phase, with the maximum ows, the river
overows into the oodplain lakes carrying embryos and larvae of these migratory sh
species. Since during high water periods these lakes provide abundant shelter and food,
some of the adults of some species (P. magdalenae and I. longirostris) stay in the trib-
utaries, but most of them return to the lakes and others (mainly pimelodids) stay in the
river channels, where they remain until the next period of low water, when the cycle
starts again.
This migratory cycle associated with reproduction, larvae drift and recruitment
has been described for many tropical rivers around the world (Welcomme, 1985;
© 2016 The Fisheries Society of the British Isles, Journal of Fish Biology 2016, 89, 65–101
Lateral migration (Connection channels)
Upstream migration (River channel)
Adults ripening (River channel)
Spawning (River channel and tributaries)
Downstream drift and embryo incubation (River and connection channel)
Feeding and growth areas for sh larvae (Floodplain lakes)
Feeding areas for adults (lakes, river channel, tributaries)
Fishery effort
In the river channel and tributaries
in the connection channel
in the oodplain lakes
River discharge
F. 4. Habitat linkage in sh migration, reproduction and recruitment and sheries in the Magdalena-Cauca
River basin over the annual cycle.
Bialetzki et al., 1999; Lucas & Baras, 2001; Baumgartner et al., 2004), but in the
Magdalena-Cauca River it happens twice in the year with consequences for sh
population recruitment and artisanal sheries.
Feeding groups
Most of the sh species in the northern basins of South America are generalist feeders
and specialized feeding on limited resources is rare. Most of the evidence comes from
research on the ecology of individual sh species and there is little published data on
interaction between sh species or about trophic webs. Matthews (1998) states that
feeding strategies in shes are so diverse that it is hard to dene groups, so simple and
broad trophic groups are proposed here (herbivores, omnivores and carnivores) and
following Bowen (1983) the detritivorous group is included (mud and detritus feeders)
(Table III). In the herbivorous group, shes eat plants, seeds and algae. Carnivores eat
all invertebrate groups (i.e. insects, molluscs and worms) and shes; in this group, are
included the scale eater Roeboides dayi (Steindachner 1878) and the hematophagous
Paravandellia phaneronema (Miles 1943).
Body features of the sh species are important for foraging. Mouth position (ventral
or terminal), body form (depressed or compressed) and caudal peduncle size have been
identied as the main body features than inuence diet (K. Aguirre, unpub. data). In
the herbivorous group, most of the species belong to the family Loricariidae. These
armoured catshes are attened dorso-ventrally and have a ventral sucker-mouth disc
with soft teeth they use to scrape the biolm, thus feeding is done by ploughing along
the substratum and using the thick-lipped, toothy mouth to scrape plant material (l-
amentous algae and diatoms) from hard structures (rocks, trees, roots and boats) or
to suck up ne sediments. The detritivorous group mainly consists of prochilodontids
© 2016 The Fisheries Society of the British Isles, Journal of Fish Biology 2016, 89, 65–101
T III. Fish composition in the trophic groups in each aquatic system in the Magdalena-Cauca River basin
group Omnivore Carnivore Herbivorous Detritivorous Reference
Astroblepus spp.,Astyanax spp.,
Brycon spp.,Characidium
spp.,Creagrutus brevipinnis,
Hemibrycon spp.,Saccodon
spp.,Xiphophorus helleri,
Hyphessobrycon poecilioides,
Bryconamericus spp.
Andinoacara latifrons,
Apteronotus eschmeyeri,
occidentalis,Par a ch rom i s
Chaetostoma spp.,
Lasiancistrus caucanus
García-Alzate &
(2008), Roman-P
et al. (2014), D.
(unpubl. data).
Acestrocephalus anomalus,
Andinoacara latifrons,Brycon
spp.,Astyanax spp.,
Bryconamericus spp.,
Argopleura magdalenensis,
Cetopsis othonops,
Cetopsorhamdia spp.,
Characidium spp., Creagrutus
spp., Microgenys spp.,
Parodon magdalenensis,
Trichomycterus spp.,
Pimelodus spp., Pimelodella
spp., Roeboides magdalenae,
Saccoderma spp., Saccodon
spp., Xiliphius magdalenae,
Leporinus muyscorum,
Leporellus vittatus,
Triportheus magdalenae
Apteronotus mariae,
Astroblepus homodon,
Caquetaia kraussii,
Caquetaia spp.,
Ctenolucius hujeta,
Eigenmannia virescens,
Gasteropelecus spp.,
Geophagus steindachneri,
Hoplias malabaricus,
Poecilia caucana,Poecilia
spp., Potamotrygon
spp., Salminus afnis,
Sorubim cuspicaudus,
Sternopygus aequilabiatus,
Ancistrus spp.,
Chaetostoma spp.,
Cordylancistrus spp.,
Hypostomus spp.,
Panaque spp.,
Pterygoplichthys spp.,
Rineloricaria spp.,
Sturisoma spp.,
Spatuloricaria spp.
Ichthyoelephas longirostris,
Prochilodus magdalenae,
Jiménez-Segura et al.
© 2016 The Fisheries Society of the British Isles, Journal of Fish Biology 2016, 89, 65–101
T III. Continued
group Omnivore Carnivore Herbivorous Detritivorous Reference
Brycon spp., Pimelodus spp.,
Hoplosternum magdalenae,
Cynopotamus magdalenae,
Centrochir crocodili,
Leporinus muyscorum,
Astyanax spp., Leporellus
vittatus,Pimelodus spp.,
Pseudopimelodus bufonius
Gilbertolus alatus,Hoplias
Ageneiosus pardalis,
Triportheus magdalenae,
Trachelyopterus insignis,
Abramites eques,
Andinoacara latifrons,
Geophagus steindachneri,
Caquetaia kraussi,
Apteronotus mariae,
Eigenmannia virescens,
Ctenolucius hujeta,
Plagioscion surinamensis,
Sorubim cuspicaudus,
Roeboides dayi
Hypostomus spp.,
Crossoloricaria spp.,
Pterygoplichthys spp.,
Squaliforma tenuicauda,
Sturisoma spp.
Prochilodus magdalenae,
K. Rivera-Coley & D.
Arenas (unpubl..
data), A. Arango
(unpubl. data)
Reservoir Andinoacara latifrons,Astyanax
magdalenae,Brycon henni
Roeboides dayi
Coptodon rendalli
D. Restrepo-Santamaria
(unpubl. data), Y.
Rondon (unplubl.
© 2016 The Fisheries Society of the British Isles, Journal of Fish Biology 2016, 89, 65–101
and curimatids. The terminal mouth of I. longirostris (Prochilodontidae) can be pro-
jected forward forming a sucker disc with soft teeth that graze on detritus and biolm
present on hard structures. The migratory P. magdalenae (Prochilodontidae) also uses
its mouth with soft teeth on their lips to scrape biolm from hard substrata in the
rivers it use when it migrates, but this species as well as C. mivartii (Curimatidae), and
C. magdalenae mainly eat mud accumulated on the bottom of the oodplain lakes or
by sucking the roots of aquatic plants (A. Bermúdez,
Intraspecic morphological differences have been described as ‘trophic polymor-
phism’ being related to the structures responsible for food and which can confer advan-
tages in the use of the habitat and specic resources (Olsson & Eklöv, 2005). Roberts
(1974) has noted ve oral and dental polymorphisms for Saccodon dariensis (Meek &
Hildebrand 1913) (Parodontidae) in tributaries of the Rivers Sinú, Magdalena, upper
Cauca and Atrato, and Restrepo-Gómez & Mancera-Rodríguez (2014) suggest that the
coexistence of two of these oral polymorphisms in the Guatape River (Magdalena River
basin) may be related to a trophic polymorphism that confer advantages in different
trophic habits and differential access to the items that constitute their diet.
Although a sh species may be allotted to a trophic group, foraging and feeding
strategies are so diverse because of dynamic environmental conditions and changes in
the diel and annual cycles, that it is necessary to describe its particular feeding strat-
egy. Foraging and diet turnover of sh species during rainy seasons and in response to
the diel cycle are poorly known. It has only been reported in this region for the diet
of the cachegua Trachelyopterus insignis (Steindachner 1878). During the rainy sea-
son, this sh feeds on different sources and is an omnivore, but in the dry season, it
feeds mainly on other shes and hence is a piscivore (S. López-Casas & J. G. Ospina,
unpubl. data). Although the omnivorous group is by far the most diverse, taxa compo-
sition is strongly dependent on the species assemblage in the different aquatic systems
(Table III). In oodplain lakes Hernández-Serna et al. (2015) also found that there is a
foraging segregation during the diel cycle by body size and trophic group: small shes
forage during the day while larger shes do so at night, and carnivores and detritivores
forage during the night and omnivores by day.
The unique characteristics of the aquatic system (depth, substratum structure and
water velocity) may be denitive for trophic group species richness because of food
availability. Higher species composition turnover due to the aquatic system type is
observed in the Loricariidae family. In Andean streams, species of Chaetostoma are
the most important in the herbivore group. Their at bodies, sucker-shaped mouth and
strong pectoral ns let them thrive in this shallow and turbulent aquatic system. In
deeper and quiet oodplain lakes, other Loricariidae species such as Hypostomus spp.
and Pterygoplichthys spp. with higher and shorter bodies are successful. The absence
of substrata for biolm growth in reservoirs may be one of the reasons loricariids are
mostly absent from those habitats. More research is needed as well as further analyses
of carbon ux and food webs to advance knowledge of functional feeding groups in
the region.
Reproductive seasonality
The reproductive season is mostly determined by parental condition related to fat
reserves stored during the previous season of higher food availability, as well as
suitable habitat conditions favourable for egg fertilization and embryo development
and subsequently food availability for larvae (Munro, 1990; Lowe-McConnell 1995;
© 2016 The Fisheries Society of the British Isles, Journal of Fish Biology 2016, 89, 65–101
Vazzoler 1996; Wootton, 1999). In Andean aquatic systems, the hydrological pattern
and nutrient transport generated by the rainy season are denitive cues for selec-
tion of optimal reproduction timing (Jiménez-Segura, 2007; Kerguelen-Durango &
Atencio-Garcia, 2015). Most of the sh species breed during the rains, a few during
the dry seasons and others throughout the year (Table IV). This variation is mainly
inuenced by the interaction between rains and particular environmental conditions
in each type of aquatic system that offers food for adults and favours spawning
success. Thus, while in oodplains and the main river channel favourable conditions
for reproduction are much more suitable during high waters; in the Andean streams
reproduction is much more common during low waters to avoid egg and larval drift
during the rainy season. Reservoirs are the exception to this pattern, sh species
reproduce throughout the year. The main reason is that there is no drastic change in the
water level as a result of the rain patterns as happens in natural aquatic systems, so sh
species only have to nd favourable habitat conditions to spawning and recruitment.
Rainy season changes in habitat conditions and their direct inuence is greater
in some aquatic systems than in others; ow magnitude, frequency and amplitude
are important. In the rainy season, Andean streams are highly disturbed by frequent
ushing, water turbulence and sediment transport. The cumulative effect of small
streams ooding at the same time, causes the amplitude and magnitude of river ows
to increase, but their frequency diminishes. Finally, when the ow discharge exceeds
the storage capacity of the river channel, the river spills onto the lateral plain and water
enters the oodplain lakes. This physico-chemical stage generated by rains in the
aquatic systems of the Andean mountains causes favourable environmental conditions
for sh reproduction and recruitment in the oodplains.
To reproduce, adults need extra energy for gonad growth and spawning, and
favourable conditions for offspring survival (Munro, 1990). Rains and oods enhance
food for adult shes in every aquatic system (Welcomme, 1985; Junk et al., 1989;
Lowe McConnell, 1995; Jiménez-Segura et al., 2010b), but each sh needs specic
environmental conditions for spawning and maximum offspring survival. Although
rains and oods provide favourable conditions to feed adults and larvae, there is a
time lag after the rains and oods for sh spawning in the Magdalena-Cauca River
(Jiménez-Segura et al., 2010a) and food availability for sh larvae on the oodplains
(Jiménez-Segura et al., 2010b). The hypothetical relationship between spawning area
location for migratory species, optimal drift distances of the larvae related to water
velocity in the river channel and the timing of plankton blooms (food for sh larvae)
in oodplain lakes needs to be veried.
In Andean streams, oods carry nutrients from nearby soils, and rains carry insects,
leaves and seeds from the gallery forest, so extra allochthonous food enters the system,
allowing shes to store energy in adipose tissue that will be used for gonad growth.
In these aquatic systems, some sh species spawn in the dry season and others at the
beginning of the rains (Table IV). To increase embryo and larval survival, some shes
develop parental care and parents carry the eggs (i.e. loricariids) or keep them inside
crevices, submerged trees or make nests to keep them away from the inuence of cur-
rents and safe from predators. When the embryos hatch, in some species the larvae
develop a cephalic sucker to attach to rocky substrata (e.g. B. henni) or stay in pools
to avoid ow. Most of the non-migratory shes in the oodplain lakes of the Mag-
dalena River feed during the oods, their gonads mature in the dry season, they spawn
in the lake as the water level rises, and their larvae nd shelter and food under the
© 2016 The Fisheries Society of the British Isles, Journal of Fish Biology 2016, 89, 65–101
T IV. Climatic periods for sh spawning in the aquatic systems in the Magdalena-Cauca River basin
Climatic period
Aquatic system Dry Rains (*) Rains and dry References
Streams Andinoacara latifrons,Characidium
chapmani,Bryconamericus huilae,
Hemibrycon boquiae,Microgenys
minuta,Creagrutus guanes,
Roeboides dayi
Astroblepus spp., Brachyhypopomus
occidentalis,Chaetostoma spp.,
Characidium grupo zebra,Hemibrycon spp.,
Lasiancistrus spp., Brycon henni,Astyanax
fasciatus,Trichomycterus spp.,Saccodon
dariensis,Bryconamericus caucanus
Astyanax microlepis,Poecilia
caucana,Pimelodus grosskopi,
Astroblepus homodon,
Lasiancistrus caucanus,Astyanax
Cala (1997), Román-Valencia & Muñoz
(2001), Román-Valencia et al. (2003),
Román-Valencia & Ruiz (2005),
Román-Valencia & Botero (2006),
Maldonado-Ocampo et al. (2005),
Román-Valencia et al. (2008),
Briñez-Vásquez & Francis-Turner
(2006), Román-Valencia & Samudio
(2007), Torres-Mejía & Ramírez-Pinilla
(2008), Jiménez-Segura et al. (2015), N.
Mancera-Rodríguez et al. (2016), L.F.
Jiménez-Segura (unpubl. data),
River channel Bryconamericus caucanus,Caquetaia
kraussi,Caquetaia umbrifera,
Chaetostoma milesii,Crossoloricaria
variegata,Dasyloricaria lamentosa,
Hypostomus hondae,Trichomycterus
banneaui,Geophagus steindachneri
Characidium phoxocephalum,Leporinus
magdaleniatum,Sorubim cuspicaudus,
Parodon magdalenensis,Pimelodus blochii,
Prochilodus magdalenae,Roeboides dayi,
Salminus afnis
Creagrutus brevipinnis,Ctenolucius
hujeta,Trichomycterus caliense,
Trichomycterus chapmani,
Trichomycterus striatus,Poecilia
spp.,Apteronotus magdalenensis
Maldonado-Ocampo et al. (2005),
Rangel-Serpa & Torres-Mejia (2015),
Jiménez-Segura et al. (2009),
Jiménez-Segura et al. (2014b), L.F.
Jiménez-Segura (unpubl. data),
Floodplain lakes Sturisoma panamense Abramites eques,Cyphocharax magdalenae,
Prochilodus magdalenae,Leporinus
muyscorum,Pimelodus blochii,Centrochir
crocodili,Trachelyopterus insignis,Astyanax
caucanus,Astyanax fasciatus,Astyanax
magdalenae,Roeboides dayi,Eigenmannia
virescens,Gilbertolus alatus,Triportheus
magdalenae,Plagioscion magdalenae
Caquetaia kraussi,Andinoacara
malabaricus,Rhamdia quelen
Atencio-García et al. (2001),
Maldonado-Ocampo et al. (2005);
Jiménez-Segura et al. (2010b),
Olaya-Nieto et al. (2010).
Reservoirs Brycon henni,Poecilia caucana Andinoacara latifrons,Astyanax
microlepis,Coptodon rendalli,
Oreochromis spp.,Hoplosternum
magdalenae,Roeboides dayi,
Caquetaia kraussi,Caquetaia
Maldonado-Ocampo et al. (2005),
Solano-Peña et al. (2013), J. Londoño
(unpublished data), A. Loaiza
(Unpublished data), L.F. Jiménez-Segura
(unpubl. data),
(*) in the beginning of the rainy period
© 2016 The Fisheries Society of the British Isles, Journal of Fish Biology 2016, 89, 65–101
140 000
120 000
100 000
80 000
60 000
40 000
20 000
Yield (t)
Yield (%)
F. 5. (a) Fisheries yield in Colombia ( , marine landings; , freshwater landings) and (b) percentage of
freshwater yield of each river basin ( , Upper Amazonas; , Atrato River; , Upper Orinoco River; ,
Magdalena-Cauca River) from 1995 to 2014.
aquatic macrophytes (Jiménez-Segura et al., 2010b). Andean reservoirs offer food for
shes throughout the year, allowing native shes that persist in the assemblage to spawn
throughout the year. So, adults of riverine species ripen during the dry season and spawn
at the beginning of the oods, species in the lowland lakes ripen in the dry season, but
spawn after the oods during the high water season, species in streams ripen during
the oods, but spawn during the dry season, and shes in reservoirs spawn any time,
throughout the year.
Colombia’s shery production comes mainly from marine resources. Freshwater pro-
duction represented 20% (mean value) of the total production in the years 1995– 2014
(Fig. 5). During that time period, catches from trans-Andean rivers represented 80%
of freshwater production. The Magdalena-Cauca Basin is the most productive river for
artisanal sheries; its yield comprised between 72 and 94% of the sheries yield of
trans-Andean basins and it supplies the protein demand of the local population (67%)
and populations in major cities such as Bogotá, Medellin and Barranquilla (Escobar
et al., 2014). Yield data from the Ranchería River do not exist because the shery is
poorly developed and there is no data recording (Mojica et al., 2006a).
© 2016 The Fisheries Society of the British Isles, Journal of Fish Biology 2016, 89, 65–101
T V. Fish species and shing gear ranking according their percentage to sheries yield in the Caribbean Basins (Mojica et al., 2006a,b; Gutiérrez
et al., 2011a,b; Gutiérrez, 2011; Escobar et al., 2014). Fishing gear data from AUNAP (2014a,b)
River Basin
Rank Magdalena-Cauca Sinú Atrato Ranchería
Species 1Prochilodus magdalenae Prochilodus magdalenae Prochilodus magdalenae Prochilodus reticulatus
Hoplias malabaricus Leporinus muyscorum Ichthyoelephas longirostris
3Pimelodus blochii Cyphocharax magdalenae Hoplias malabaricus Salminus afnis
4Plagioscion magdalenae Leporinus muyscorum Mugil curema
5Pimelodus grosskopi Caquetaia kraussii Centropomus spp.
Fishing gears 1 Gillnet Cast nets Gillnet NR
2 Beach seines Gill nets Hooks and lines NR
3 Cast nets Beach seines Cast nets NR
4 Trawl nets Harpoon Traps NR
5 Surrounding net Hooks and lines NR
6 Hooks and lines Surrounding net
Species number 224 55 118 50
Species in sheries 26 27 40 NR
Fisher number 43 730 3 442 1 242 NR
NR, not reported.
© 2016 The Fisheries Society of the British Isles, Journal of Fish Biology 2016, 89, 65–101
Fisheries in trans-Andean river basins is artisanal and multispecies (Gutiérrez et al.,
2011a). The sher population was reported as 50 600 individuals (Gutiérrez, 2011;
Gutiérrez et al., 2011a,b). Catch methods are mainly nets (gillnets, cast nets, sur-
rounding nets, trawl nets and beach seines), hooks, lines and traps. Their size, mass and
methods vary locally and depend on the characteristics of the freshwater system and on
the hydrological cycle (Table V). Boat size is highly variable, they may be 28 m long
(most frequently 5 m) and 0·4–1 m wide (most frequently 0·8 m), and most of them are
made of wood or breglass.
Prochilodontids are the main source for artisanal sheries in all trans-Andean basins.
Although 45 species are used by shers in the trans-Andean river basins (Lasso et al.,
2011a,b), P. magdalenae is the main target of the artisanal catch and represents
8095% of catches (Gutiérrez, 2011; Gutiérrez et al., 2011a,b). Pimelodid species
[e.g. P. magdaleniatum,P. blochii,S. cuspicaudus and Pseudopimelodus bufonius
(Valenciennes 1840)] and Bryconidae (e.g. B. moorei,B. henna and Brycon rubricauda
Steindachner 1879) are also used, but their yield does not exceed 30% of the total.
The number of sh species used by shers changes between river basins, e.g. the
Sinú River shery is highly diverse, and shers use 45% of the total number of sh
species, but although some species may be used in all trans-Andean river basins, their
importance differs slightly from one to another (Table V).
Freshwater sheries yield in the trans-Andean Basins is highly seasonal because it is
based mainly on migratory sh species (Lasso et al., 2011b). The higher shing effort
is during the low water period because shes of migratory species move to the main
river channel from oodplain lakes for upstream migration. The magnitude of sheries
yield differs between the trans-Andean basins and there is a production pattern associ-
ated with the river water level in each basin (Fig. 6). Although there is a clear pattern
between yield and discharge, Escobar et al. (2014) describes a change in sheries yield
associated with the geomorphic characteristics of the river basins. The higher produc-
tion comes from the medium and lower sectors where the lateral oodplain is well
developed, the slope is low, oodplains lakes are numerous and their connection with
the main channels is permanent.
Riverine sheries production in the Magdalena-Cauca River fell from 60 000 t in
1975 to 10 000t in 2014 (Fig. 7). Although the observed pattern should be viewed with
caution because through the years, government agencies have changed the methodol-
ogy used to record landings, shers and environmental agencies recognize a substantial
reduction in landings. Besides the reduction in sher landings, some other worrisome
characteristics were detected: changes in the type of exploited sh species and reduc-
tion in the species size harvested by sheries, variables characteristic of overshing
described by Welcomme (1999) in other multispecies artisanal sheries.
For the last 40 years, the number and composition of species in the catch has changed.
The number of shed species has increased, in the 1970s, populations of ve species
were the most exploited but in the last decade, shers have utilized nine species. Dur-
ing the 1970s, species of high commercial value such as P. magdaleniatum,B. moorei
and S. afnis were the most important species in the sheries catch; during the 1980s,
P. magdalenae became the most important, and in the last decade new species of lower
commercial value such as L. muyscorum,C. mivartii,C. magdalenae,H. malabar-
icus and S. aequilabiatus, and some exotic species such as C. rendalli,Colossoma
macropomum (Cuvier 1816) and Piaractus brachypomus (Cuvier 1818) have become
important in the riverine sheries yield. Most of the important native species used by
© 2016 The Fisheries Society of the British Isles, Journal of Fish Biology 2016, 89, 65–101
12 000 (a)
10 000
14 000
12 000
10 000
Jan Feb Mar Apr MayJun
JulAug Sep Oct NovDec
Discharge (m3 s−1)
Yield (t)
F. 6. Fisheries yield ( ) and monthly mean discharge ( ) for (a) Magdalena-Cauca River, (b) Atrato
River and (c) Sinú River. Yield data were taken from periods 1993–1999, 2006 –2009 and 2012 –2014, and
discharge data were obtained from 2000 to 2013.
artisanal shers make short or medium length migrations, have higher fecundities, per-
form pelagic spawning without parental care, but some of the recent additions to the
shery are non-migratory, build nests and have parental care. Fisheries based on such
kstrategist shes may be a threat to conservation. Also the diversity of catch methods
used by shers makes the sizes of harvested shes vary widely, and many individuals
are harvested at a size below the mean size of rst reproduction (Table VI). These bad
shing practices have also led to the capture size reduction of exploited species; mean
catch size of P. magdalenae has been reduced by 13 cm in the last 30 years (CCI, 2007).
Poverty, few possibilities for economic support and low education level of shers may
be considered as the basic causes of the improper use of the sh resource.
Hydropower development requires the formation of reservoirs, new aquatic habitats
that favour the population growth of some sh species. There are 34 reservoirs in
the trans-Andean river basins, 15 are used only for hydropower (power capacity
© 2016 The Fisheries Society of the British Isles, Journal of Fish Biology 2016, 89, 65–101
80 000
70 000
60 000
50 000
40 000
30 000
20 000
10 000
Production (t. year–1)
Pseudoplatystoma magdaleniatum
Brycon moorei
Salminus afnis
Prochilodus magdalenae
Sorubim cuspicaudus
Prochilodus magdalenae
Pseudoplatystoma magdaleniatum
Sorubim cuspicaudus
Brycon moorei
Salminus afnis
Prochilodus magdalenae
Pseudoplatystoma magdaleniatum
Pimelodus blochii
Leporinus muyscorum
Curimata mivartii
Brycon moorei
Sternopygus aequilabiatus
Salminus afnis
Coptodon rendalli
F. 7. Riverine sheries production for the last 40 years in the Magdalena-Cauca River basin and the most
important sh species in landings.
higher than 100 MW), one for crop irrigation, nine for water supply and nine are
multi-purpose (i.e. hydropower, water supply and crop irrigation). Seven sustain
important artisanal sheries (Escobar et al., 2014) that are poorly known because
landings are not monitored. Although some native shes are important in riverine
sheries production, non-native sh species are the mainstay of catches in most of
the reservoirs (Table VII). Life-history strategies of these species (i.e. low fecundity,
parental care, nest building, fast growth and low trophic levels) favours the colonization
and success of these articial aquatic systems (Gomes & Miranda, 2001).
Fifty per cent of the sh fauna of the trans-Andean Rivers has been included in
the Red List of the UICN (Mojica et al., 2012) and depletion in the riverine sh-
eries yield in the Magdalena-Cauca River basin has been observed. This situation is
the result of interacting causes, originating in the non- sustainable success of Colom-
bian society. The growth of the Colombian population, the economic development
of the country based on some legal industries (i.e. oil, mining, hydropower, exten-
sive agriculture and cattle, sh culture to protein supply and enhancement) and illegal
business (i.e. illicit crops) cause ever increasing demands for a large number of envi-
ronmental services (i.e. animal protein, wood and water). So, aquatic habitat change,
water pollution, deforestation, introduced sh species and overshing are considered
the main causes of the observed reduction in sh catches in the trans-Andean river
basins (Mancera-Rodríguez & Álvarez-León, 2005, 2006; Galvis & Mojica, 2007;
Barletta et al., 2010; Gutiérrez et al., 2010; Anderson & Maldonado-Ocampo, 2011;
Jiménez-Segura et al., 2014a). All these causes, common to all trans-Andean river
© 2016 The Fisheries Society of the British Isles, Journal of Fish Biology 2016, 89, 65–101
basins, interact synergistically to modify the dynamics, connectivity and structure of
the aquatic systems, reduce their water quality and affect the natural ow pattern.
Growth of Colombian population and sher effort
Population size is now ve times higher than in 1950 so protein demand has increased
proportionately. In 2014 there were 48 813 328 Colombians (DANE, 2015) and sh
consumption per capita in Colombia was estimated between 4 and 5 kg (FAO, 2014).
Although artisanal shers increased their effort shing with non-sustainable techniques
and shing in all aquatic systems throughout the year, their landings fall far short of
satisfying the Colombian demand. Protein supply has been satised instead by the pro-
duction of sh farms in the last decade. In 2011 sh farms produced 82 733 t; sadly,
sh farm production is based mainly on exotic species as Cichlidae, C. macropomum
(Serrasalmidae), Onchorhynchus mykiss (Walbaum 1792) (Salmonidae) and, recently,
Pangasius hypophthalmus (Sauvage 1878) (Pangasiidae).
Sediment yield and deforestation
Erodible soils, slopes steeper than 40and the change in the forest cover are one of
the main causes of the higher sediment yield in the Magdalena-River Basin. Restrepo
& Kjerfve (2000) estimated sediment production of 560 t km2year1in the basin;
this is higher than numbers reported for the Amazon, Orinoco and Negro Rivers
combined. The deforestation rate in Colombia is one of the highest in tropical basins
around the world (Tucker & Townshend, 2000). Between 1990 and 2010, Colombia
lost 5·8 million ha; in 1990 forest cover was 51·6% of total Colombian land (equal to
64 417 248 ha), in 2010 it was 58 633 631 ha (González et al., 2011). Although there
has been a reduction in the last 4 years, there must be moderate optimism based on
recent data (MADS, 2014).
Because of the high rates of sediment transport in the Magdalena-Cauca River, ood-
plain lakes have been losing depth, their connectivity with the main river has been
reduced and as a result, their buffering capacity during the oods has diminished.
Rather than focusing on the recovery of forest and land use to provide a reasonable
solution to the problem of erosion and sedimentation in the lowlands, the Colombian
Government is directing its resources to specic actions with doubtful effects, e.g.
a long-term solution such as dredging the main channel of the Magdalena River to
increase its depth. Of course, this action has been promoted by the Ministry of Trans-
port to improve transport of larger ships along the river channel and, not by the Ministry
of Environment to protect oodplain lakes and their connectivity channels as the prime
habitats for freshwater fauna, migratory shes and shers.
Water pollution and eutrophication
Ten million people live in Bogotá, the capital city of Colombia. Daily, citizens and
industries discharge wastes into the Bogotá River (a tributary of the Magdalena River)
including among many sewage water, nitrogen and phosphorus-based fertilizers and
xenobiotic substances (e.g. organochlorines, cadmium and lead). Upstream the mouth
of the Bogotá River, the Magdalena River has already received residuals of pesticides
used for insect control in rice crops (e.g. DDT, Lindane, dieldrin, B-BHC, Endosulfan,
Aldrin, Dimethoate, Chlorpyrifos, Malathion and Dazinon) (Villa, 1992) the amounts
of which increase downstream due to pest control on extensive oil palm crops. Added to
© 2016 The Fisheries Society of the British Isles, Journal of Fish Biology 2016, 89, 65–101
T VI. Some characteristics of the sh species recruited to artisanal sheries in the Magdalena-Cauca River
Fish species LSmax mean LSLSrange LMM % Migratory strategy Mean fecundity References
Pseudoplatystoma magdaleniatum 100 58 20 – 131 80 85 M-Migrant 493 752 Jiménez Segura et al. (2008)
Sorubim cuspicaudus 80 43 6 –93 45 60 M-Migrant 78 943 Jiménez Segura et al. (2008)
Ageneiosus pardalis 44 36 35 44 S-Migrant 21 808 Perez et al. (2005)
Pimelodus grosskopi 22* 23 7– 48 20 22 M-Migrant 28 500 Cala et al. (1993)
Pimelodus blochii 35 15 7–48 18 82 M-Migrant 10 743 Ramírez et al. (2013)
Pseudopimelodus bufonius 47·9* 20 45 100 M-Migrant ?
Hoplias malabaricus 55·2 26 13– 37 25 28 non-migrant ?
Leporinus muyscorum 25·7 24 8 –40 25 52 S-Migrant 63 900 Arguello et al. (2001)
Prochilodus magdalenae 30 23 7– 55 25 67 M-Migrant 53 535 Atencio-García et al. (2013)
Salminus afnis 100 36 35 44 M-Migrant 67 500 Mojica et al. (2012)
Brycon moorei 50 35 35 17 M-Migrant ?
Plagioscion surinamensis 70 32 8– 62 30 49 M-Migrant ?
Caquetaia kraussii 26 15 11 24 20 97 non-migrant 1732 Solano-Peña et al. (2013)
LS, max maximum standard length (cm) reported in Froese & Pauly (2015); Mean LS, mean standard length (cm) in sher catch; LMM, mean length (cm) of rst reproduc-
tion; LSrange, standard length range (minimum–maximum); %, percentage of the sher capture under LMM . * Jiménez-Segura & Ortega-Lara (2010) and Jiménez-Segura
& Villa-Navarro (2011).
© 2016 The Fisheries Society of the British Isles, Journal of Fish Biology 2016, 89, 65–101
T VII. Characteristics of some Colombian reservoirs and artisanal sheries. Data taken from Jiménez-Segura et al. (2011) and Escobar et al.
(2014). Fish species are rank by their importance in landings
Reservoir & Basin
Urra II Amani Guajaro Betania Prado Tominé Porce II Salvajina
Basin Ranking Sinú Magdalena Magdalena Magdalena Magdalena Magdalena Magdalena Cauca
Area (ha) 7 800 1 230 16 000 7 424 3 410 3 830 890 2 031
Altitude (m) 70 250 9 561 361 2 580 540 1 100
depht (m)
73 188 91 90 20 118 148
Yiel d
(t year1)
75·9 (2012) 11·7 (2012) 387 (2014) 493 (2008) 126 (2010) NR NR 10·9 (1996)
Fished species 1Caquetaia kraussi Oreochromis
niloticus *
niloticus *
niloticus *
Caquetaia kraussi Cyprinus
carpio *
niloticus *
niloticus *
Caquetaia kraussi Chyphocharax
mykiss *
Coptodon rendalli
Oreochromis spp. *
4Panaque gibbosus Ichtyoelephas
Pimelodus blochii Oreochromis
niloticus *
Pimelodus zungaro
7Rhamdia spp.
Gears 1 Gillnets Gillnets Gillnets Gillnets Gillnets Hooks and lines Gillnets Gillnets
2 Hooks and lines Hooks and lines Hooks and lines Hooks and lines Hooks and lines Gillnets Hooks and lines Hooks and lines
3 Cast nets Cast nets Cast nets Cast nets
*, no native sh species; NR, not reported.
© 2016 The Fisheries Society of the British Isles, Journal of Fish Biology 2016, 89, 65–101
this, gold mining wastes (e.g. mercury and arsenic) and heavy metals (e.g. Cd, Pb and
Ni) are being incorporated into sh tissues throughout the food web (Alvarez et al.,
2012). Effects of these substances on freshwater shes are poorly known in Colom-
bia, but some data have been published or compiled in Cala & Sodergren (1999),
Mancera-Rodríguez & Álvarez-León (2013), Marrugo-Negrete et al. (2007, 2008a,b),
Álvarez et al. (2012), Noreña et al. (2012), Trujillo et al. (2010) or are contained in
unpublished technical papers.
Reservoirs and hydropower
Sixty-seven per cent of the energy supply in Colombia comes from hydropower
(Jiménez-Segura et al., 2014a) produced by 32 reservoirs. In the Magdalena-Cauca
River, most of these reservoirs are located in tributaries of the main channel; Urrá
I reservoir was built in the main channel of the Sinú River and in the Atrato River
there are no reservoirs to date. Reservoirs block the upstream– downstream migrations
of some sh species, change natural ow regimes (affecting the environmental cues
for migratory sh species spawning and the seasonal oods important for early stages
recruitment in the oodplain lakes), and reduce the sediment load on the oodplain.
Hence, the future is uncertain for migratory shes and remains a challenge because
government agencies plan to double hydropower production by the year 2027. Further
analyses are detailed in Jiménez-Segura et al. (2014a).
Non-native species introduction
The presence of alien species in the current assemblages in the Caribbean
trans-Andean basins are the result of escapes from sh farms. Escapes from these
farms are common and individuals of these species have colonized the trans-Andean
rivers. Their success in these aquatic systems is so high that these species have been
recently included in the report of the artisanal shery catch. Álvarez-León et al.
(2013) and Mancera-Rodríguez & Álvarez-León (2013) mention that the introduction
of the carnivore O. mykiss is highly correlated with the disappearance of the endemic
trichomycterid Rhizosomichthys totae (Miles 1942) from Andean lakes. Threats to
conservation from alien shes are poorly understood in Colombia. Recently, Gutiér-
rez et al. (2012) compiled a list of 29 alien sh species, including the piscivorous
Arapaima gigas (Schinz 1822) and Micropterus salmoides (Lacépède 1802). The
impact of these alien sh species on native sh assemblages is unknown and research
is needed.
Lost area of the oodplain lakes
Although wetlands are vital for sustaining aquatic biota and associated environmen-
tal services, the aquatic systems in the Caribbean river basins of Colombia are one
of the most threatened habitats as they are the nal receptors of all the changes in
their basin. Mismanagement of the territory by the Colombian Government is the main
cause. At local level, entire villages were built on oodplain areas that are ooded
historically by the river in a recurring ood cycle of c. 50 years. The economic activ-
ities of this population (e.g. crops and cattle) are developed on the surrounding ood-
plains. Although there is no ofcial data, an important area once covered by the lakes
has been lost because many lakes have been drained or their connection channels to
© 2016 The Fisheries Society of the British Isles, Journal of Fish Biology 2016, 89, 65–101
80 000
60 000
40 000
20 000
Landing (t) SOI
Individuals m–3
Water level (cm)
F. 8. (a) Southern Oscillation Index (SOI; , mean monthly values; , average for four periods of the monthly
values), (b) weekly ichthyoplankton densities ( ) and water level ( ) between 2004 and 2011 and (c)
riverine sheries landings ( ) of the Magdalena-Cauca River in the last four decades.
the main river were closed to increase croplands and cattle pasture area around them
and, in the last 5 years, illegal gold mining is disruptively modifying the land. At a
regional level, the increase in deforestation rate increases the sediment runoff carried
in the water, so lowland wetlands progressively lose depth. As the oodplain lakes get
shallower, land-owners surrounding these aquatic systems construct levees across the
natural connection channels to stop the inuence of the river ooding into the lake.
So, as the lake loses depth and connectivity with the basin, they dry out and nally
Climate change
As sh reproduction and recruitment in tropical areas is highly correlated with rain
patterns and oods, changes in air temperatures and rains associated with ENSO cycles
may have impacts on freshwater sh conservation and artisanal sheries landings. In
Colombia, El Niño causes long periods of low water levels and La Niña long periods
of oods in the trans-Andean rivers (SOI, 2014). Although there is no clear associ-
ation between El Niño periods and the freshwater sher landings (Fig. 8), in some
years, higher landings have occurred during the El Niño period, higher densities of
ichthyoplankton at the beginning of the immediate oods and a new period of high
sher landings, with a positive time lag of one and a half years. If the observed cycles
of droughts-rains-oods change because of variations in the frequency and intensity of
ENSO, population sizes of migratory shes may also change and so impact the artisanal
sheries’ sustainability. Ichthyoplankton monitoring may be a useful biological vari-
able for several research questions about migratory sh recruitment in tropical rivers
and the impact of climatic change.
© 2016 The Fisheries Society of the British Isles, Journal of Fish Biology 2016, 89, 65–101
The economic activities that have increased the gross domestic product of Colom-
bia are modifying the aquatic ecosystems where the shes live and the livelihoods of
artisanal shers. Modications of the freshwater aquatic systems and their connectiv-
ity to the trans-Andean river basins are the origin of a silent degradation that threatens
freshwater sh conservation in Colombia. Cumulative effects of the human activities
described above may lead to a signicant reduction in the population size of the sh
fauna and perhaps even the extinction of some rare species.
After the Rio Convention in 1992, the Colombian Government created the Minis-
terio de Medio Ambiente y Desarrollo Sostenible MADS (Law 33 of 1993) as the
agency responsible for the environmental management of Colombia. Fish protection
and management are function of the MADS and the Autoridad Nacional de Pesca y
Acuicultura (AUNAP). MADS protects sh diversity and AUNAP the sh as a human
food source. Some MADS advances in environmental protection includes the system of
National Parks, institutions for environmental research (IDEAM, Instituto Alexander
von Humboldt, SINCHI, among others) and the Agencia Nacional para Licenciamiento
Ambiental ANLA. Sadly, although the law, its articles and paragraphs of the Law 33
are well intentioned for the protection of environmental resources, in the real scenario
other ministries related to the economy (Energy, Transport and Agriculture) advance
faster on the exploration and use of resources (water, oil, gas and soil) than MADS
on protecting the terrestrial and aquatic systems as habitat for biota restricted to the
northern regions of South America.
Almost 10% of the terrestrial Colombian area is protected by the Parques Nacionales
Naturales Agency (c. 12 877 086 ha) (Parques Nacionales Naturales, 2015). Fifty per
cent of this protected area is located in the trans-Andean River basins, but most of them
are in the highlands, above 1000m altitude and they do not include the river basin as
a unit. MADS is also constructing a system for compensating the loss of biodiversity
as a result of infrastructure and energy development of the Colombian Government
(MADS, 2012), and after the consequences of the oods by the ENSO cycle of the
year 20092011 on human population, this institution is moving to dene the wetland
limits in Colombia (Vilardy et al., 2014).
As already noted, the available information about shes for each river basin is
different; most is from the Magdalena-Cauca with few scattered studies in the other
basins. Those basins, although smaller than the Magdalena-Cauca, are just as impor-
tant for local people as the main basin. More systematic and regional research must be
focused on sh conservation; shes are the source for several environmental services
provided to human populations in Colombia. Although more information is always
needed about shes, there is no time to wait for answers to all the scientic questions
before proposing some simple conservation actions. Freshwater sh conservation
and the artisanal sheries are threatened by the economic development of some
industries. The river basin must be the basic management unit for sh protection.
Actions for protecting and restoring their aquatic habitat quality and their connectivity
must be the main objective for environmental agencies during the next 50 years.
If the aquatic systems are not restored and protected, there is no future for the sh
fauna or for artisanal shers, one of the economically poorest groups in Colombian
© 2016 The Fisheries Society of the British Isles, Journal of Fish Biology 2016, 89, 65–101
We are grateful to all our undergraduate and post-graduate students for their enthusiasm for
discovering and knowing more about Colombian shes; this enterprise could not have been done
without them. We also thank the Colombian energy producers ISAGEN S.A. E.S.P. (Agree-
ment 46/3296, Contract No 7/4346) and Empresas Públicas de Medellín EPM (Agreement
201100334) for nancial support to collect some of the data included here. We also thank to
D. Taphorn for improving the English language and to unknown reviewers for their opportune
suggestions for improving the manuscript.
Supporting Information
Supporting Information may be found in the online version of this paper:
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... Despite the fact that territories formerly inhabited by armed groups has been conserved, the fluvial network of the Andes mountains faces multiple pressures, all of which are of anthropic origin, such as deforestation, water draining for cattle farming, extensive agriculture, reservoir formation, mineral extraction, and water contamination as a result of domestic and industrial waste produced in large cities (Jiménez-Segura et al., 2016). These factors, along with rapid climate change, do not offer a promising future for the conservation of the biota, including the Colombian inhabitants (Tognelli et al., 2019;Valencia-Rodríguez et al., 2022). ...
... The dominant species were distributed in the three environments, while the less abundant species were captured in a particular environment. These results agree with the general tendency of species occurrence and abundance in aquatic environments of this northern basin of the Andes (Jiménez-Segura et al., 2016). The number of species captured in each aquatic environment was representative and in line with the values expected to be obtained; with a greater sampling effort, more species may have possibly been found (Restrepo-Santamaria et al., 2022). ...
... Stream environments harbored greater fish diversity, which may be due to the variety of microhabitats (pools, rapids, waterfalls) and the supply of food or shelter for survival (Hamp, 2019). In addition, the fishing gear used may be more effective in this environment or creeks than in larger environments, such as rivers, which require a tremendous sampling effort to know their diversity (Jiménez-Segura et al., 2016). ...
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The peace process in Colombia allowed biodiversity experts to visit unexplored regions in the tropical Andes mountains. The diversity of fish species and characteristics of the aquatic environments (creeks, streams, and river channels) in which they live were determined by means of the Bio Anorí expedition. During the expedition, we evidenced the presence of alluvial mining activity, and we contrasted the environmental characteristics of the sites without disturbances with those where there was mining activity. A total of 478 specimens were captured, representing 22 endemic species of the region. The dominant species (Brycon henni, Chaetostoma aff. brevilabiatum, Creagrutus affinis) were distributed in the three environments, while the less abundant species (e.g., Leptoancistrus or Characidium) were captured in a particular environment. The number of species captured in each aquatic environment was representative and adjusted to the values expected to be obtained. Stream environments harbored a higher diversity of fish. A representative species inventory was inferred; however, this analysis suggested that it is possible to capture more species in the aquatic environments evaluated. The composition of assemblages was similar among aquatic environments; although, differences were observed between creeks and rivers. Stream environments connected creeks and river assemblages. In terms of environmental characteristics, the evaluated streams and creeks were cold, more transparent, and highly oxygenated; the opposite occurred in the rivers, which were less oxygenated, more turbid, and warmer. Canonical correspondence analysis suggested that species composition was influenced by the physicochemical conditions of the water. This study provides information associated with fish distribution in a region of the Colombian Andes that was under an armed conflict for more than five decades. In addition, it allowed us to observe habitat transformations because of alluvial mining activity. Finally, it is essential to continue exploring remote areas to know their preservation status and apply conservation measures.
... In Andean rivers, some fish species can change their diet to consume allochthonous and autochthonous resources present in the water column, depending on the climate season. These species are naturally adapted to live in a variable environment where annual hydrological fluctuation causes major shifts in the availability of food and other resources [10]. The elevation gradient also influences feeding habits [11]. ...
... Research on the fish fauna associated with reservoirs is a priority for strengthening the environmental management of aquatic resources in the Andes. These constitute an important natural renewable resource of great biological and social importance [10,16]. Unfortunately, these fishes are among the least studied vertebrates in Colombia and entail one of the most endangered species groups [17,18,19]. ...
... The fish species A. microlepis and B. henni consumed a wide diversity of prey as a feeding resource in the two reservoirs, their diets consisted of a wide variety of terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates, as well as vegetal material and seeds. The generalist feeding behavior observed in these species can be seen as an adaptive trait, allowing them to inhabit environments as diverse and dynamic as the aquatic systems of the Colombian Andes [10,40]. These species (A. ...
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The construction of dams for hydropower in the Andean rivers of Colombia is leading to a loss of regional fish species. Fish species that persist in these artificial ecosystems are those that find favorable new conditions for their recruitment. Suitable feeding strategies allow these fish to persist and thrive in reservoirs. We analyzed the stomach contents of the species present in two cascade reservoirs in the Magdalena River basin. The objectives were to describe fish diets, determine their feeding strategies, and evaluate if seasonal factors, like rain or spatial distribution, affect the diet of these fish species. Our results indicate that the fish species Brycon henni and Astyanax microlepis feed on a wide range of resources available within the systems and adopt a generalist feeding strategy. Also, opportunistic species such as Roeboides dayi and Hoplosternum magdalenae lived in the reservoirs. The fish species living in the two reservoirs showed different feeding behaviors. The rainy season in these reservoirs was beneficial for opportunistic fish species because it allowed them to diversify their eating behavior. Knowledge of the feeding habits of the studied fish species is a priority for strengthening the environmental management capacity of Andean aquatic resources.
... Los ambientes de llanuras de inundación de los ríos, como el complejo cenagoso caribeño, son importantes por sus funciones ecosistémicas. Al respecto, cabe destacar la amortiguación de los niveles hídricos de los ríos, sus altas diversidades biológicas y los flujos de los nutrientes que producen un efecto positivo en la oferta alimenticia, favoreciendo las áreas de desove de los peces (Gutiérrez y Pinilla, 2016;Jiménez-Segura et al., 2016). Estas funciones son la razón por la cual el efecto de la conectividad horizontal entre las ciénagas, los arroyos y el río principal es fundamental para mantener la funcionalidad de estos ecosistemas y el éxito de los procesos ecológicos de las comunidades que allí habitan, como la reproducción, el forrajeo y la migración. ...
... Actualmente, la diversidad de especies en ecosistemas acuáticos continentales enfrenta un momento crítico; más aún en la cuenca del río Magdalena, donde más del 70 % de la población colombiana tiene incidencia directa sobre el uso del sistema (Jiménez-Segura et al., 2016). Por ejemplo, las especies migratorias que constituyen la base de la pesquería artesanal, tales como Megaleporinus muyscorum, Ageneiosus pardalis, Sorubim cuspicaudus y Pseudoplatistoma magdaleniatum (un ejemplar registrado en el canal de Dique) y Prochilodus magdalenae (sin capturas durante el estudio), tienden a desaparecer debido generalmente a factores de acción antrópica y en gran medida a la falta de planificación estatal. ...
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Se estudió la diversidad de peces y se evaluaron los factores determinantes en la estructuración de los ensamblajes de peces capturados en una llanura de inundación tropical de la cuenca del río Magdalena, Colombia. Se identificó que la riqueza íctica reportada en este estudio (43 especies) corresponde aproximadamente al 38 % de la diversidad de la cuenca baja del río Magdalena (112 especies) y a cerca del 19 % de la diversidad total del sistema Magdalena-Cauca. Las planicies con mayor conectividad entre sí y con el río presentaron comunidades más similares que los hábitats más distantes y aislados. Asimismo, la estructura de las comunidades de peces estuvo determinada por las condiciones del medio ambiente y el tipo de hábitat en términos de conectividad. Las variables ambientales que más influyeron en la estructura de las comunidades fueron las que estuvieron asociadas a procesos de eutrofización, tales como dureza, cloruros, nitratos, nitrógeno total, sólidos suspendidos totales y salinidad, y al pulso del caudal, como la profundidad, pero el principal factor de regulación fue la poca o nula conexión entre las zonas inundables y el cauce principal del río Magdalena. Se considera que la información generada pueda ser empleada para estimar la composición real de especies de peces dulceacuícolas, sustentar la toma de decisiones por parte de las entidades gubernamentales, priorizar áreas para la conservación de la biodiversidad o contribuir al adecuado uso y manejo de los recursos naturales presentes en este complejo sistema lagunar tropical.
... The loss of biodiversity in freshwater ecosystems reveals a rapid decrease in populations and a great risk of extinction in freshwater organisms (Reid et al., 2019). The Magdalena basin is no exception, as aquatic ecosystems are among the most affected by human activity in Colombia Jiménez-Segura et al., 2016;Rodríguez, 2015). Threats such as fisheries pressure and non-native fish species have already been reported (Hernández Barrero et al., 2021;Lasso et al., 2020). ...
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Introduction: The distribution of freshwater fishes in the Colombian Andes results from the interaction between historical and recent factors. Currently, the Andean landscape is facing rapid transformation processes. However, the knowledge regarding species distribution and environmental requirements is advancing slower than the transformations underway in the fluvial networks. Objective: To understand the conformation of the fish assemblage in the middle and lower Cauca River basin, considering the local environmental context before the construction of the Ituango Dam, and quantifying β diversity and its two components (turnover and nestedness) amongst local fish communities. Methods: 58 localities were monitored during nine years (between February 2010 and November 2018), the period before the dam's operation. The species richness (α-diversity), species turnover (β-diversity), and assemblage composition were estimated for the given localities. Results: 114 species were recorded, representing ~ 49 % of the total richness of known species for the Magdalena basin. The richness distribution showed that the number of species varies among the aquatic environments. Swamps presented the most significant number of species, followed by the Cauca River, while streams had the lowest values of richness. The spatial analyses of β-diversity revealed a high variation component in the study area due to species replacement between the aquatic environments. Conclusions: The implementation of long-term monitoring allowed us to recognize that the Cauca River basin conserves a great variety of species-rich environments. The species turnover indicates a high proportion of endemism or multiple sites with unique species. Finally, our study will serve as a baseline to verify, over time, whether the dam's construction is associated with essential changes in the structure of fish communities.
... Icththyoplankton densities pulse many times during the flooding period Jiménez-Segura et al. (2010b), Jiménez-Segura et al. (2016); these evidence are probably a consequence that not all migratory fish spawn at the same time because not all fish migrate at the same moment (Punta groups). To improve the knowledge of this interesting behavior, we need more research on long term monitoring of ichthyoplankton densities, integrating telemetry research to follow the migratory routes, and seasons of White fish in the Magdalena basin. ...
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We review knowledge on the Magdalena River in Colombia and its fish to identify those drivers that influence the artisanal fisheries production. We identify eight direct drivers (four natural and four anthropogenic) and at least four indirect drivers. Those drivers modify conditions in the fluvial network that promote fish movements, reproduction, and their larvae survivor. Landscape, rains, floods, connectivity of the fluvial net as land cover change, water pollution, hydropower, and alien species are the natural and anthropogenic direct drivers described in this article. The river–lake interaction dynamics in the Magdalena River are determined by two rainy cycles per year. Two seasonal flooding periods induce two cycles in the biological productivity of floodplains because water and sediment inputs. The most visible consequences in these hydrological cycles are the migrations of potamodromous fish and the periodic increase in the artisanal fishery production. Major floodplains are reducing their storage capacity by trapping ∼10%–40% of upstream sediment production. This process induces many research questions about rates of biomass production, carbon fluxes in the basin, impacts of human-induced erosion, and increasing rates of sediment load on floodplain connectivity, but still there is not enough data to answer them. Finally, we make some suggestions toward the sustainability of the Magdalena floodplains. The well-being of the floodplain ecosystems and their connectivity with the main river are the main tools to preserve and manage the ecosystem services of the Magdalena River and its floodplains lakes.
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The arrival of a non-native species to a new environment threatens local biological diversity, causing instability in the functioning of the ecosystem. The adverse ecological effects caused by these species have been scarcely documented for the Magdalena basin. By studying predator-prey interactions, we characterized the trophic niche of three non-native species ( Micropterus salmoides, Oncorhynchus mykiss , and Cyprinus carpio ) that dominate a high Andean reservoir in the Magdalena basin. To understand whether non-native species are preying on native fish, or if they present specific feeding behaviors that facilitate their establishment in lentic environments, we evaluated the diversity of the prey they consume, their feeding strategy, and possible differences in the feeding scheme. Forty individuals were analyzed, and twenty categories of prey were identified for these species. The consumed prey corresponds to the native biota; however, no native fish were found in the stomach contents evaluated. The diversity of prey consumed is similar amongst species, however, M. salmoides behaves like an important predator, as it consumes a larger amount of prey. We observed that the variation in diet composition amongst the non-native species is different, which favors their coexistence as it reduces the competition amongst them. Analyzing the type of diet of this non-native fish is a useful tool that provides a description of some trophic interactions in this aquatic environment. Our results contribute information on the existing interactions amongst non-native species to the Magdalena basin, which is important for the development of strategies to manage and promote impact mitigation.
Information on the reproductive biology of fish species is essential for fisheries management, conservation, and culture potential assessment. Therefore, this study aimed to understand the sex-based morphological differences and reproductive characteristics of Cephalocassis borneensis, an ariid species with a rapid decline of wild populations. Fish samples were collected monthly from local fishermen (n=1092) in the Vietnamese Mekong River over a year. Morphological analyses revealed that sexual dimorphism was observed in mature but not immature fish. The length at first maturity (Lm ) was smaller for males (11.5 cm) than females (12.5 cm). Mature males had larger head length and pre-pectoral distance than mature females, increasing the space for oral incubation of fertilized eggs and larvae in males. Conversely, females were larger in three head parameters (head angle, head width and head depth) and three abdomen parameters (body deep, ventral fin length and distance between pectoral and ventral fin) involved in ovary development. Paternal mouthbrooding behaviour is an important reproductive strategy in C. borneensis to increase offspring survival. Monthly variations in gonadosomatic index (GSI) and condition factor (K) and the presence of maturation stages indicated that C. borneensis spawns year-round, mainly in the rainy season from June to October. This species' fecundity was relatively low, from 10 to 31 eggs per female of quite large sizes (about 7.30 ± 0.68 mm in diameter). Besides, non-functional oocytes (hyaline eggs) of smaller size (<3 mm) were found in the females' ovaries. Low fecundity with large eggs and paternal care indicated that the species is an equilibrium strategist. These characteristics are critical in developing ariid species conservation plans, such as setting the time and mesh size for fishing, and domestication programs in artificial conditions. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
The coporo, Prochilodus mariae, plays a fundamental role in aquatic ecosystems as a detritivorous species facilitating the flow of carbon to the rest of the ecosystem's food web. It is also one of the most exploited freshwater fish species. Fishing, pollution and environmental changes in the Orinoquia region of Colombia have considerably reduced its population size. We analysed the population dynamics of P. mariae during an annual river cycle, including extreme drought and flood scenarios, by means of a mathematical model and simulations. The model we propose is novel because it relates biological, ecological and environmental factors to the population dynamics, including reproduction, growth in size and biomass of fish, recruitment, predation, fishing mortality and river flow. The proposed mathematical model apparently gives an approximate description of the population dynamics of P. mariae for 2010 because a good fit of the model to the catch data of the species of that year was obtained. The simulations showed that the first 3 months of the year are crucial for the species because this is when it is most affected by a combination of fishing, biological factors which increase natural mortality (e.g. upstream migration and predation) and environmental factors (e.g. low river flow). Hypothetical scenarios show that local extinction could occur if fishing were to increase and river flow were to decrease.
A revision of the genus Salminus, excluding the large-sized species S. brasiliensis and S. franciscanus, is presented. In addition to the two large-sized species, four additional Salminus species are recognized: Salminus affinis Steindachner, from the río Magdalena, río Sinú, and río Rancheria basins, Colombia; Salminus hilarii Valenciennes, from the rio Paraná, rio São Francisco, and rio Jaguaribe basins, Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay; Salminus iquitensis (Nakashima), new combination, from the western portion of the Amazon basin, rio Branco, and río Orinoco basins, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela; and Salminus santosi new species, from the rio Tocantins basin, Brazil. These four species are described/redescribed and illustrated, and a key to the species belonging to the genus is presented. Comments on the diagnosis of the genus Salminus and its biogeography taking into account recent phylogenetic hypotheses published for the genus, are presented.
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RESUMEN Objetivo. Evaluar el efecto de dos inductores hormonales en la reproducción inducida de nicuro Pimelodus blochii. Materiales y métodos. Para los procesos experimentales fueron utilizados adultos sexualmente maduros, sometidos a tres tratamientos aplicados vía intramuscular, en dosis única de 0.25 mL/kg Ovaprim® (OVAP) (T1), 0.5 mL/kg de OVAP (T2) y 6.25 mg/kg de Extracto de Hipófisis de Carpa (EHC) (T3), para este último tratamiento la inyección fue dividida en 20 y 80%, con un intervalo de 12 h entre aplicaciones. Previo a la extracción de los gametos, los animales fueron tranquilizados por inmersión en una solución de Metanosulfonato de Tricaina (90 mg/L). El desempeño reproductivo fue evaluado mediante el índice de ovulación (hembras ovuladas/hembras tratadas), fecundidad absoluta (Fa) (ovocitos/hembra), fecundidad relativa (Fr) en función del número de ovocitos desovados por gramo de peso. La fecundación se realizó en seco y seis horas post-fecundación (HPF) se determinó la tasa de fertilidad. Resultados. La ovulación (ºh) para el T1 fue a las 297.1±30.0, T2 294.6±32.9 y T3 247.3±13.1 ºh. En todos los tratamientos se obtuvieron hembras ovuladas, donde los mayores índices de ovulación fueron obtenidos con Ovaprim® (T1 y T2) con 36.4 y 50%, respectivamente. Las tasas de fecundación obtenidas fueron mayores a un 50%, para el tratamiento 1 y 2, con valores de 74.5 y 32.7%, respectivamente. Conclusiones. El uso de inductores hormonales puede ser efectivo para garantizar la reproducción inducida del nicuro, en dosis única de 0.25 y 0.5 mL/kg de Ovaprim®.
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RESUMEN Objetivo. Evaluar los parámetros biológicos de crecimiento y reproducción de la mojarra amarilla en el embalse de Urrá. Materiales y métodos. Se colectaron 593 individuos para estudiar las relaciones talla-peso y la biología reproductiva. La relación longitud-peso y el factor de condición se estimaron con WT =a LTb y Fc =WT/LTb, y se estimó proporción sexual, tallas e índices de madurez sexual, época de desove, diámetro de los ovocitos y fecundidad. Resultados. 235 individuos fueron hembras, 212 machos, 28 indiferenciados y 118 no sexados. La relación longitud-peso para sexos combinados fue WT =0.013 (± 0.04) LT3.07 (± 0.03), r =0.99, n =593. La proporción sexual fue 1.1:1, la talla media de madurez sexual para sexos combinados fue 11.0 cm LT, el diámetro de los ovocitos fue 1376 μm y la fecundidad promedio por desove fue 1732 ovocitos. Conclusiones. La mojarra amarilla mostró crecimiento isométrico en el embalse de Urrá, con talla media de captura menor que en el resto de la cuenca del río Sinú, sin dimorfismo sexual a la talla, período de reproducción prolongado y desoves parciales, ovocitos grandes y baja fecundidad, con correlación entre el factor de condición y el índice de madurez sexual, pero independientes del nivel de las aguas del embalse.
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Resumen Diet and reproduction in Lasiancistrus caucanus (Pisces: Loricariidae) from La Vieja river basin, Alto Cauca, Colombia. Diet and reproduction habits in Lasiancistrus caucanus from La Vieja river, Alto Cauca, Colombia, were studied. The sampling was carried out from September 2003 to August 2004 in four secondary drainages, with a width between 3 - 15 meters and mean depth of 1 meter. Its habitat is principally conformed by kikuyo grass (Poacea) and matandrea (Hedichium coronarium). The dissolved oxygen and the saturation is high (7.8 mg/l and 91% respectively), pH 7.3. The superficial water temperature reaches 21°C and the air temperature 24.9°C. L. caucanus is a nocturnal species, found adhering to the substrate (rocks and logs) along the edges of the stream; during the day it is usually captured among a plant called matandrea in Spanish (Edichium coronarium) but at night it is found in the grass (Poacea). The diet is conformed by algae that adheres to the substrate, although two insect larvae were found in a stomach. There are differences between the diets from the different drainages and among fish of different sizes. The spawning was observed between June-August and October-December. Fecundity was low (185 oocytes) with an average mean egg diameter of 1.5 mm. The sex ratio is 2.6:1, with dominance of females.
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Resumen We studied trophic and reproductive ecology of a new endemic species of characid fish Hemibrycon sp., from Tinajas Creek, Quindío River drainage, upper Cauca basin, Colombia. The diet consisted primarily of Diptera (Tipulidae and Chironomidae), Hymenoptera (Formicidae) and Coleoptera (Dytiscidae), but it also eats algae (Clorophyta) and seeds. Alochtonous food items are important factor for this species. The species reproduces in both the wet and dry seasons. During September-October they store lipids in their celomic cavity. Fecundity is low 405 oocytes) and the sex ratio is 1:2.28, with a predominance of males. Hemibrycon sp. is syntopic with: (Cetopsorhandia boquillae, Astyanax aurocaudatus, Trichomycterus caliense, and Poecilia caucae. Physical and chemical of data of their habitat are included.
La asociación de peces fue estudiada en la Laguna de Cachimbero en diferentes momentos pluviométricos. Las capturas fueron realizadas en cuatro sitios; en cada uno de ellos se muestreo las zonas litoral y pelágica. Fueron capturadas con redes de espera: 23 especies de peces, 1.372 individuos y un peso total de 96.160,28 g. Las especies Caquetaia kraussii, Cyphocharax magdalenae, Hoplias malabaricus, Pimelodus blochii, Prochi-lodus magdalenae y Trachelyopterus insignis fueron las más importantes en abundancia y biomasa. La mayoría de las especies fueron capturadas en zonas litorales y en sitios de muestreo más próximos a los tributarios del humedal y del canal de salida al Río Magdalena y el Caño Cachimbero. La Captura por Unidad de Esfuerzo total (cpue, g/m2) fue diferente entre las zonas litoral y pelágica y entre sitios de muestreo. Los valores de diversidad no superaron en ningún caso a 0,8 bits. La equidad alcanzó valores significativamente altos en algunos muestreos. Cyphocharax magdalenae,Pimelodus blochii y Caquetaia kraussii fueron las especies más importantes en la asociación espacio-temporal. No se encontró una relación significativa entre las características del medio y la asociación de especies.
Se colectaron 355 individuos de Prochilodus magdalenae provenientes de las capturas realizadas por los pescadores artesanales de las ciénagas de Tumaradó, ubicadas en la cuenca baja del río Atrato (Chocó), Colombia, dentro del Parque Nacional Natural Katios. Las colectas se realizaron entre julio y diciembre de 2004, durante el periodo de aguas altas. Las tallas de captura variaron entre 190-380 mm de longitud estándar (LE); aunque no se observaron diferencias significativas entre los meses de muestreo, en el mes de diciembre se registraron los individuos de mayor talla. Las proporciones sexuales mostraron diferencias significativas, predominando las hembras en todos los meses. La abundancia de individuos maduros, la relación gonadosomática, el factor de condición y el coeficiente de alometría evidencian que la época reproductiva de la especie en el bajo Atrato comienza entre diciembre y julio. El número de ovocitos promedio por hembra fue de 52.698; los diámetros presentaron un amplio rango de variación en los meses de muestreo. 22,25% de las capturas se encontraron por debajo de la talla mínima de captura reglamentaria.
Los lagos someros presentes en los planos de inundación de sistemas fluviales tropicales son considerados como ambientes que ofrecen alimento y protección a los peces, en especial en las etapas de desarrollo inicial en la ontogenia de los individuos. Debido a la fuerte influencia que tiene el pulso de inundación sobre estos ambientes, algunos momentos son críticos (e. g., fuertes estiajes) para la fauna íctica. Basados en el análisis del factor de condición k y de la relación gonadosomática (RGS) de algunas especies de peces en la ciénaga de Ayapel (Córdoba), Colombia, y en la oferta de alimento y hábitat para la ictiofauna durante diferentes periodos hidrológicos entre los años 2004 y 2005, se encontró que el bienestar y la reproducción de las especies estuvieron asociados con la oferta de alimento y hábitat en el sistema. Y estos, a su vez fueron determinados por el cambio en el volumen de agua almacenado en la ciénaga.