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The inland water fishes of Africa

 | 
Didier Paugy
, 
Christian Levêque
, 
Olga Otero

Geographical distribution and affinities of African freshwater fishes

Christian Levêque et Didier Paugy

Résumé

The present day composition and distribution of the fish fauna are the result of a long and complex history. They have been shaped by millions of years of changes in the global water cycle and the dynamics of freshwater systems. The dual processes of speciation and extinction have interacted with climatic and geological events that have isolated fish populations and/or provided opportunities for migrations and colonization of new habitats.
The understanding of the zoogeography of African fish has prompted several surveys since the beginning of the century. Ideas have evolved substantially according to progress made in regional inventories and taxonomic information (see chapter General characteristics of ichthyological fauna). However, some fundamental questions remain challenging. What are the driving factors responsible for the colonization of the continent and the differentiation of the fish fauna in several provinces (biogeography)? What are the affinities of the African ichthyofauna with the other continental faunas? Ichthyologists try to answer these and many other puzzling questions with unflagging pleasure!

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Extrait du texte

Patterns of fish distribution and ichthyological provinces

At the continental level, African ichthyofauna is not distributed homogeneously and the current distribution is a result of:

  • the climatic history and geological events that have shaped the current hydrographic systems. In the past, they permitted interconnections between river basins, as well as the temporary or permanent isolation of certain aquatic systems;
  • the process of speciation which depends on the duration of hydrographic isolation and of the evolutionary potential of species;
  • the ability of fish to disperse and the existence of refuge zones during drought period;
  • the size of the catchment area and the diversity of aquatic habitats available for fish which subsequently determine the composition of the communities observed;
  • the consequences of diseases that may have affected fish population, even if this type of impact is still very poorly documented.

TABLE 5.I Presence/absence of families of fish in the African ichthyologic...

Auteurs

Research director at IRD. He has published numerous works on the systematics, distribution, and ecology of West African fresh water fishes, and expanded the collections of the MNHN in Paris.

Research director at IRD. He has published numerous works on the systematics, distribution, and ecology of West African fresh water fishes, and expanded the collections of the MNHN in Paris.

© IRD Éditions, 2017

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