Phylogeography of Brachyplatystomarousseauxii (Siluriformes – Pimelodidae) in the Amazon Basin offers preliminary evidence forthe first case of “homing” for an Amazonian migratory catfish

J.S. Batista, J.A. Alves-Gomes
Published December 1, 2006
Genet. Mol. Res. 5 (4): 723-740 (2006)

About the authors
J.S. Batista, J.A. Alves-Gomes

Corresponding author
J.A. Alves-Gomes


The large pimelodid, Brachyplatystoma rousseauxii, is one of the two most important catfish species for the fisheries in the Amazon. It is captured by commercial and artisanal fishing fleets in at least five Amazonian countries, at fishing grounds more than 5000 km apart. Current evidence suggests a complex life cycle that includes the longest reproductive migration known for a freshwater fish species. Experimental fisheries have pointed to a decrease in yield in the Western Amazon. However, reliable information about the capture and status of this fishery resource is still nonexistent, and no study has ever addressed its genetic diversity. We sequenced the entire D-loop of 45 individuals of B. rousseauxii, fifteen from each of three different fishing locations along the main channel of the Solimões-Amazonas System covering a distance of around 2200 km. Results of phylogenetic analyses, molecular diversity estimations, analysis of molecular variance, and nested clade analysis, together show that there is no genetic segregation associated with location in the main channel, as one would expect for a migratory species. However, the significant decrease found in genetic diversity towards the western part of the Amazon could be explained by a non-random choice of tributary to spawn. It is possible that the genetic diversity of the migrating schools decreases towards the west because portions of the species’ genetic diversity are being “captured” by the different effluents, as the fish migrates to spawn in the headwaters. Like the salmon in North America, B. rousseauxii may be returning to their home tributary to spawn.

Key words: Siluriformes, Brachyplatystoma, Phylogeography, Amazon, Fish homing, Conservation 

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