New plec found in Venezuela

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A new species of Chaetostoma-like suckermouth catfish described from the northern part of Venezuela is believed to be an endangered species.

The new plec species, called Cordylancistrus nephelion, was discovered in tributaries of the Tuy River in the north central part of Venezuela and has just been described by Provenzano and Milani in the journal Zootaxa.

Milani and Provenzano say that this species and others in the Tuy River basin are at risk of extinction due to the industrial and domestic pollution levels in the river, and the very small geographic range and low abundance of the species.

"If government institutions fail to establish recovery or protection plans, the extinction of this new species and others that are endemic to the basin will be a very distinct possibility", the authors wrote.

"The extinction of these species would imply not only the loss of the biological information that it represents, but also the loss of information on the evolutionary history of the Tuy River and of the La Costa mountain range. Such a loss would reduce the biodiversity of northern Venezuela significantly."

CordylancistrusThe genus Cordylancistrus was erected by Isbrucker in 1980 and currently includes six species: C. platycephalus; C. platyrhynchus; C. perijae; C. torbesensis; C. daguae and C. nephelion.

C. nephelion is the third member of the genus to be recorded from Venezuela. It and torbesensis and perijae all live in the foothills of the Merida, Perija and La Costa mountain ranges and all have very limited geographical ranges, which places them at greater risk of extinction than more widespread species.

The new plec can be told apart from other members of the genus by its striking colour pattern of white spots on a dark background and very bushy odontodes.

There's a revised key to identifying members of the genus in the paper, along with a discussion of the genus as a whole.

For more details on the new species see the paper: Provenzano, F and N Milani (2006) - Cordylancistrus nephelion (Siluriformes, Loricariidae), a new and endangered species of suckermouth armored catfish from the Tuy River, north-central Venezuela.