Monday, May 7, 2007

"A First Look at the Fish Species of the Middle Malinau" by Rachmatika, I. et al. (2005)

A First Look at the Fish Species of the Middle Malinau - Taxonomy, ecology, vulnerability and importance. By Rachmatika, I., R. Nasi, D. Sheil & M. Wan, 2005. Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Bogor, Indonesia. vi+34 pages. ISBN: 979-3361-67-0.

This is an A4-sized volume covering the freshwater fishes of the middle Malinau (tributary of the Sesayap River), East Kalimantan, Indonesia. This is basically a technical report based on field collections conducted in 1999 and 2000. The site was chosen because it was adjacent to the Kayan Mentarang National Park.

Surveys were conducted in both pristine and logged habitats of the Seturan catchment for comparisons. The local Punan, Merap and Kenyah communities were also interviewed and socio-economic data gathered.

Over the course of the surveys, a total of 47 fish species was obtained. Fishes from the Cyprinidae family consist the bulk of catch (68%). There were also possible new species obtained (e.g. Puntius and Gastromyzon). Species potentially vulnerable to logging activities were highlighted. Impacts of logging on the fish fauna were also discussed. Logged habitats yield lower diversity and abundance of fish species.

Two appendices were included. Appendix 1 listing the collection stations. Appendix 2 provided an annotated list of fish species obtained. The systematics used is not updated, e.g. Belontiidae had been synonymised with Osphronemidae, Barbonymus is a senior synonym to Barbodes. The species list is listed alphabetically by family name and not in the taxonomic order.

Despite the few shortcomings, this is a timely publication to illustrate the real state of knowledge we have of the tropical biodiversity in Southeast Asia. It is a commendable effort for the authors to publish this despite restricted access to updated publications and taxonomical help.

Tan Heok Hui
Department of Biological Sciences
National University of Singapore
Kent Ridge 119260
Republic of Singapore

First published in The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Vol. 54(1): 200 on 28 Feb 2006.

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