• Fish diversity;
  • Terra firme streams;
  • fish assemblage complexity;
  • Rio Amazons

Abstract –  The objective of this study was to quantify fish species diversity in Terra firme streams of the Río Amazonas drainage. Fish diversity was quantified as the number of species collected or species richness in two sites of Yahuarcaca stream, a typical, first order tributary of the central Río Amazonas near Leticia (Colombia). The extremely high species richness recorded, 131 and 133 for the two study sites for a total of 171 species, was primarily due to species of low abundance (rare species) mostly with adults <5 cm in total length. The nonasymptotic tendencies of accumulated species richness over time for the 1999 samples at the two study sites and for the combined samples of 1999, 2001 and 2005 at site 2 suggested that the real number of fish species may be still greater. These findings emphasise the importance of long-term sampling designs to quantify species richness in these systems. Terra firme streams actually sustain greater fish richness than previously reported for similar sized streams that in turn, represent a substantial per cent of the total species richness reported for vast areas of the main stem of Río Amazonas including tributaries and lakes. Terra firme streams should be considered critical hotspots for conservation and management efforts which are urgently needed given the rapid development of ornamental fisheries on small streams throughout Río Amazonas drainage.