Assessing the Species in the CARES Preservation Program and the Role of Aquarium Hobbyists in Freshwater Fish Conservation

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  • Jose Valdez
  • ,
  • Kapil Mandrekar, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, United States
Freshwater fish represent half of all fish species and are the most threatened vertebrate group. Given their considerable passion and knowledge, aquarium hobbyists can play a vital role in their conservation. CARES is made up of many hobbyist organizations, whose purpose is to encourage aquarium hobbyists to the most endangered or extinct-in-the-wild freshwater fish to help ensure their survival. We found the CARES priority list contains nearly six hundred species from twenty families and two dozen species extinct-in-the-wild. The major families were typically the ones with largest hobbyist affiliations such as killifish, livebearers, and cichlids; which alone were half of CARES species. CARES contained every IUCN threatened species of Pseudomugilidae and Valenciidae, but only one percent of threatened Characidae, Cobitidae, and Gobiidae species. No Loricariidae in CARES were in the IUCN red list as they were not scientifically described. Tanzania and Mexico contained the largest amount of species, with the latter containing the most endemics. A large percent of species were classified differently than the IUCN, including a third of extinct-in-the-wild species classified as least concern by the IUCN. The vast disconnect exemplifies the importance of collaboration and information exchange required between hobbyists, the scientific community, and conservation organizations.
Original languageEnglish
Article number49
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 29 Sep 2019

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