Forest Code falls short in protecting Amazonian fish

Forest Code falls short in protecting Amazonian fish

A new study demonstrates that the extraordinary breadth of fish species found in streams and tributaries of the Amazon isn’t afforded much protection from the effects of agriculture under current laws, such as Brazil’s Forest Code. Such legal protections often focus on the vegetation found in forests, and they often address areas immediately around waterways, as well as the life found above the surface. “When we think about Amazon biodiversity we tend to think of colourful birds, mammals, insects and amphibians,” said Cecília Gontijo Leal, an ecologist at Emílio Goeldi Museum in Brazil, in a statement. “But the small streams in and around the Amazon are also incredibly biodiverse.” An Amazonian stream. Photo by Cecília G. Leal/Emílio Goeldi Museum. Nearly one out of every 10 fish species on the planet lives in the Amazon. Leal and her colleagues hypothesized that farming might be disrupting the habitats of many of these fish since streams flow through both protected areas and private areas, where the Forest Code typically calls for safeguards in the immediate vicinity of streams. The team looked at the potential impacts on 83 streams across Brazil’s eastern Amazon in 2010 and 2011, cataloging 24,420 individual fish representing more than 130 species. “In just one [150-meter (492-foot)] stretch of one stream we found more fish species than are found in whole countries like Sweden or Denmark,” Leal said. “Some of them were new to science, and others were found in only a few individual streams. “Many of these species could…

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