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Are the Major Fish Faunas Well-Known?

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image of Netherlands Journal of Zoology
For more content, see Archives Néerlandaises de Zoologie (Vol 1-17) and Animal Biology (Vol 53 and onwards).

The world's major fish faunas, and most of its smaller ones as well, are by no means well-known, either taxonomically or with regard to the biology of their component species. Apart from the very large number of fish species (20,000-27,000) and the difficulties for study posed by the medium in which they live, there are several other reasons for that state of affairs. An obvious and universal reason is the shortage of money available for fundamental research, and consequently a shortage of research workers. In the fields of taxonomy and systematics, both basic and essential disciplines in the study and interpretation of biodiversity, that shortage is exacerbated by other and supposedly more exciting and glamorous disciplines attracting students and teachers (and funds!). The biology of most species is poorly known, if at all, and even for those fishes of economic importance it is often biased towards particular and pragmatic ends. Fishes, no less than other organisms, are threatened by numerous human activities and by-products, but because fishes are less obvious than terrestrial life they are often overlooked, as is their role in global ecology. There is an urgent need to change that situation and to ensure that we have the information to effect their conservation.

Affiliations: 1: The Natural History Museum (Fish Section), Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD, England, J.L.B. Smith Institute of Ichthyology, Somerset Street, Private Bag 1015, Grahamstown 6140, South Africa


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