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Paiche or piracucu, Arapaima gigas. (Photo: www.amazonas.am.gov.br)

Further efforts to learn more about pirarucu

Click on the flag for more information about Brazil BRAZIL
Monday, September 24, 2012, 01:20 (GMT + 9)

In order to assist in the conservation and management of fishery resources in the internal waters of the Amazon, scientists from the federal university of the Western area of Pará (Ufopa) and of the state university of Nova Iorque (Suny Esf) signed an agreement to study the pirarucu or paiche (Arapaima gigas).

The project, which will last five years, brings together 15 Brazilian and foreign scientists that will work with the fishing communities located in the Lower Amazon.

It provides for the use of fish samples caught by local fishermen during normal fishing activities to avoid additional mortality.

"At first, we will work in partnership with some communities in the municipality of Santarém," said Daniel Gurdak, project coordinator and researcher at Suny Esf.

Meanwhile, research Lenise Vargas Flores da Silva, of the Institute of Water Science and Technology (ICTA) of Ufopa, explained that the project is divided into four areas of research:

  1. Growth and sexual maturity;
  2. Migration and habitat use;
  3. Morphological and genetic diversity;
  4. Research diet.

The team of scientists will assess the growth and sexual maturity patterns of pirarucu or paiche in Pará, and will compare them with those of other regions in the Amazon. Besides, they will discuss seasonal migration and habitat for breeding and rearing the resource.

Flores da Silva explained that "the interdisciplinary nature of the project can include different specialties such as ecology, genetics, reproduction, taxonomy and management towards pirarucu or paiche sustainability."

Meanwhile, Donald Stewart, of Suny Esf, explained there may be more than one species of pirarucu or paiche, which hampers management and conservation activities. "We have to learn before these species disappear," she said.

Finally, Luís Reginaldo Ribeiro Rodrigues, a professor at Ufopa, noted that one of the main objectives of the project is the taxonomic identification of pirarucu or paiche.

"We suspect that there are other fish species at risk of extinction. Therefore, in addition to the morphological, ecological and environmental studies, we will use a genetic approach to make comparisons and identify these species," he stated.

The initiative has the support of the Environmental Research Institute of Amazonia (IPAM), the National Museum, which is linked to the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) --, the University of California Davis (UC Davis), and the resources Fulbright and National Geographic.

Ufopa will provide the necessary physical structure and equipment for research. It will also help in the process of obtaining authorization from various public services, resources and permits for field work and the collection of biological samples.

By Analia Murias



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