The representativeness of protected areas for Amazonian fish diversity under climate change

Renata G. Frederico, Murilo S. Dias, Céline Jézéquel, Pablo A. Tedesco, Bernard Hugueny, Jansen Zuanon, Gislene Torrente-Vilara, Teofilo Hernan Ortega Torres, Max Henry Hidalgo Del Aguila, Koen Martens, Javier Maldonado-Ocampo, Thierry Oberdorff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Amazon basin has been subjected to extreme climatic events and according to climate change projections this hydrosystem could face changes in the natural dynamic of flood cycles that support the feeding and reproduction of many fish species, threatening aquatic biodiversity. Protected areas (PAs) are the main tools used to safeguard the biodiversity in the long term; however, they are fixed areas that could be subject to climate change, questioning their future efficiency in protecting biodiversity. The Amazon basin currently benefits from a relatively high level of protection as 52% of its catchment area is under the form of true PAs or indigenous lands. However, the capacity of these PAs to protect freshwater biodiversity remains unclear as they have generally been assessed with little regard to freshwater ecosystems and their hydrological connectivity. Here, the aim was to evaluate the effectiveness of PAs in representing the Amazon fish fauna under current and future climatic conditions. A macroecological approach was used to estimate the minimum size of the geographical range needed by each species to achieve long-term persistence, by a combined function of range size and body size, two ecological traits known to influence species extinction risk. In future the Amazon basin could risk losing 2% of its freshwater fish fauna owing to unsuitable climatic conditions, with a further 34% adversely affected. The present Amazon network of PAs will cover the minimum required range for species persistence for more than 60% of the freshwater fish species analysed under the future climate scenario. However, more than 25% of the future susceptible species are currently concentrated in large tributaries and in the central-lower Amazon floodplain where few PAs occur, highlighting the lack of appropriate conservation actions for these specific water bodies.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems
StateAccepted/In press - 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Gilberto Salvador for comments to improve the paper. The construction of the database was supported by the AMAZONFISH project (ERANet‐LAC: ELAC2014/DCC‐0210, ). We acknowledge the contributions of all collaborators and their institutions. RGF was funded by CNPq/FAPESPA (ICAAF 094/2016) and PROECOS (P&D ANEEL/CEMIG GT‐599). Colombian partners were supported by Colciencas (44842‐519‐2015). Members of EDB laboratory were also supported by ‘Investissement d’Avenir’ grants (CEBA, ANR‐10‐LABX‐0025; TULIP, ANR‐10‐LABX‐41). J.Z. acknowledges Brazil's CNPq for a productivity grant (no. 313183/2014‐7). M.S.D. thanks CNPq (no. 150784/2015‐5) and FAPDF (nos 00193.00001819/2018‐75 and 00193‐00000002/2019‐61) for funding.


  • Amazon basin
  • climate change
  • freshwater ecosystem conservation
  • protected areas
  • range–body size relationship
  • riverine fishes
  • species distribution models

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