Monday, June 25, 2007

"Freshwater Fishes of the Timika Region New Guinea" by Allen. G. R., K. G. Hortle & S. J. Renyaan. (2000)

P. T. Freeport Indonesia and tropical Reef Research. viii +175 pp. ISBN 0-646-40480-6.

This is the first book in a series of field guides to the biodiversity of the Timika Region of southern Indonesian New Guinea. The Timika Region lies between the Otakwa and Mamoa river basins, and the Central Dividing Range in the interior. According to the authors, the fish fauna there was virtually unknown until Freeport Indonesia's Environmental Laboratory began its quarterly sampling program there in 1995.

The taxonomy is up-to-date as first author Dr. Gerald Allen is an internationally recognised authority on both freshwater and coral reed fishes of the Australian-New Guinea region. In this comprehensive guide, 93 native species and five feral species of freshwater fish are presented. Two of the native species are new to science. The formal descriptions of the apogonid Glossamia timika and eleotrid Oxyeleotris stagnicola, appended at the rear end of the book do not interfere wit the flow of the book's concise format.

Each species is illustrated with their English and scientific names, a diagnosis that highlights the more important characters including succinct descriptions of colour and markings. There are brief comments on the fish's habitat and abundance, followed by notes on their distribution in New Guinea. These notes are illustrated on a map of New Guinea on the top right hand corner of the page. A list of local names is also provided.

Good pictures and accurate illustrations of entire fish are arguable the quickest and most reliable tool to identify the various types of fishes, and this is adequately furnished for each and every species in this guide. Many species are illustrated in life with excellent photographs. Where good photographs are wanting, line drawings and paintings made by Australian artists Jill Ruse and Roger Swainston are effective substitutes.

Apart from the illustrations, the user can also refer to keys that highlight important morphological and meristic characters. There is a key that differentiates the 27 families of indigenous and five families of introduced feshwater fish in the area. If more than one species is present in a family, a key to the different species in that group is provided.

This book certainly lives up to its design as a quick identification guide to the freshwater fishes of the Timika region. It is a good reference for anyone who is generally interested in fishes, and/or the biodiversity of the Australia-New Guinea region.

Kelvin K. P. Lim
Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research
Department of Biological Sciences
The National University of Singapore
Blk S6, Science Drive 2
Singapore 117600, Republic of Singapore

First published in the Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Vol. 49(2): 380-381 on 31 Dec 2001.

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