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p. 9

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1The diversity of fish in the Neotropical region is truly remarkable, and arouses the curiosity of many people, not only researchers, but also anglers, aquarium hobbyists or just people interested in Nature. However, the astounding number of species also implies a great difficulty in identifying this myriad of fishes. The accurate classification of a fish at the species level usually involves the need to capture some specimens in the wild, preserve them properly, and spend some time (hours to days, or even more!) examining the fish under a stereomicroscope. Moreover, it is most often necessary to compare morphological characteristics of the specimen with literature data or other specimens deposited in scientific collections. This time-consuming activity is especially needed (and sometimes tedious!) for small-sized species, which make up the vast majority of the Neotropical fish fauna.

2The task of identifying South American fish is hindered by the scarcity of scientific literature regarding most species. This deficiency impairs the countries of adequately evaluate the fish fauna living in their territories, and greatly hinder efforts to conserve this priceless natural heritage. In this sense, this «Bolivian fishes» book comes at a very good time, and represents a highly valuable contribution to the knowledge of the fish fauna of a large area of the South American continent.

3Bolivia is a privileged country that harbors an enormous variety of landscapes and water courses. The huge altitudinal gradient from the higher portions of the Andes to the vast Amazonian floodplains generates an amazing diversity of aquatic environments that maintain at least a thousand fish species. The major biogeographic zones constituting Bolivia (Andean highland basins, Bolivian Amazon Basin, and the headwaters of the Paraguay-Paraná Basin) contribute to this high fish richness by incorporating a diversity of ecological conditions and historical components.

4This book, that I am very pleased to present, includes a list of more than 900 species, with pictures of representative forms of fish families and genera inhabiting Bolivian waters. The text, produced by renowned Bolivian and French experts, also includes highly valuable information on the distribution, preferred habitat, feeding habits, reproduction, human use, origin status (native or introduced), endemism, and threats of the most well-known species.

5This comprehensive set of information will certainly be an important entry to the knowledge of the fish fauna of Bolivia. I have no doubt that this book will inspire future generations of Bolivian ichthyologists and more generally all those interested in the Neotropical fish fauna, thus contributing to the conservation of this biological treasure.

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