To date, more than 2400 valid fish species have been recorded in the Amazon basin. However, some regions remain poorly documented. This is the case in the Beni basin and in particular in one of its main sub-basins, the Tuichi, an Andean foothills rivers flowing through the Madidi National Park in the Bolivian Amazonia. The knowledge of its ichthyological diversity is, however, essential for the management and protection of aquatic ecosystems, which are threatened by the development of infrastructures (dams, factories and cities), mining and deforestation. Environmental DNA (eDNA) has been relatively little used so far in the Amazon basin. We sampled eDNA from water in 34 sites in lakes and rivers in the Beni basin including 22 sites in the Tuichi sub-basin, during the dry season. To assess the biogeographical patterns of the amazonian ichthyofauna, we implemented a metabarcoding approach using two pairs of specific primers designed and developed in our laboratory to amplify two partially overlapping CO1 fragments, one of 185bp and another of 285bp. We detected 252 fish taxa (207 at species level) among which 57 are newly identified for the Beni watershed. Species compositions are significantly different between lakes and rivers but also between rivers according to their hydrographic rank and altitude. Furthermore, the diversity patterns are related to the different hydro-ecoregions through which the Tuichi flows. The eDNA approach makes it possible to identify and complete the inventory of the ichthyofauna in this still poorly documented Amazon basin. However, taxonomic identification remains constrained by the lack of reference barcodes in public databases and does not allow the assignment of all OTUs. Our results can be taken into account in conservation and management strategies and could serve as a baseline for future studies, including on other Andean tributaries.
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Copyright: © 2022 Mariac et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.