A review of the biology and status of Cape Fold Ecoregion freshwater fishes
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1. Mediterranean climate regions are globally recognized as hotspots of endemism in fishes; however, these unique assemblages are increasingly threatened by human mediated impacts including water abstraction, damming and non‐native species introductions. 2. The Cape Fold aquatic ecoregion (CFR) of South Africa supports an assemblage of range‐restricted endemic freshwater fishes, the majority of which are conservation priorities because they are under severe threat of extinction. Effective conservation and management are constrained by the lack of readily available information on this imperilled group of fishes because research efforts over the last century have been temporally disjointed and relatively uncoordinated. 3. This review provides an exhaustive appraisal of published literature on the taxonomy, biogeography, life history, ecology and physiology of freshwater fishes in the CFR, and the human impacts that affect them. Its aim is to direct future research needs for effective management and conservation of this imperilled group. 4. Only 103 peer‐reviewed articles on CFR fishes were recorded and the majority of available research is on taxonomy and biogeography (40.8%), followed by ecological investigations (22.3%), conservation (19.4%) and human impacts (17.5%). 5. Despite a plethora of studies on taxonomy and biogeography, recent genetic evidence suggests that fish diversity in the CFR has been severely underestimated and requires urgent attention. Human impacts severely threaten the existence of many native CFR fishes and require further study. Information on the biology and ecology of CFR fishes is limited to studies on selected species; of particular note is the lack of physiological information which is particularly pertinent given projected climate change scenarios.
- RESEARCH: Weyl, O