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Inventory of the freshwater fishes from a densely collected area in South America—a case study of the current knowledge of Neotropical fish diversity



We herein analyse the history of the description of the freshwater fish fauna from three drainages in one of the most densely collected areas of Brazil, and possibly of South America, the Rio Grande do Sul State, southern Brazil. An updated inventory of the freshwater fish species from rio Uruguay (partial) in Brazil, Laguna dos Patos (complete) and rio Tramandaí basins (complete) is presented. We found the number of new species described in these drainages increased nearly 56% since 1981, reaching a total of 422 species, but even now 10% of this number still corresponds to undescribed species. This rate of species description suggests that previous estimates of the Neotropical fish fauna are low, and we predict a final number of Neotropical fishes larger than the largest prediction estimate (8,000 species), after other regions of South and Central Americas become densely sampled. We discuss and attempt to demonstrate that species diversity knowledge is historically and strictly related to collecting efforts. We also demonstrate that the ecoregions in eastern South America with the highest density of species per area correspond to the areas more densely sampled in collections, and this may represent a bias in such kinds of analyses. This uneven sampling in Brazilian regions is apparently associated with the uneven distribution of Zoological research centers in different regions of the country. Small-sized species represents an important source of new species, along with little explored regions or little explored habitats, sometimes associated with restricted range species, and species complexes that need revisionary work. In contrast to other Neotropical regions, Atheriniformes are relatively diverse, sharing the fifth place in species richness with Gymnotiformes, and there is a remarkably high number of species of Rivulidae. Eight species are endemic to the rio Tramandaí drainage, 68 to the Laguna dos Patos system, and 78 to the rio Uruguay drainage. Almost 10% of the freshwater fish species are “Critically Endangered”, “Endangered” or “Vulnerable” according to the IUCN criteria, with Rivulidae as the family with the largest number of threatened species.



Pisces, Biodiversity, Endangered species, Endemism, Laguna dos Patos, Peixes, Rio Uruguay, Rio Tramandaí

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ISSN 1175-5326 (Print Edition) & ISSN 1175-5334 (Online Edition)
Published by Magnolia Press, Auckland, New Zealand
A founding journal of Biotaxa