NCEAS Product 25268

Barthem, Ronaldo; Goulding, Michael; Leite, Rosseval G; Cañas, Carlos; Forsberg, Bruce R.; Venticinque, Eduardo; Petry, Paulo; Ribeiro, Mauro; Chuctaya, Junior; Mercado, Armando. 2017. Goliath catfish spawning in the far western Amazon confirmed by the distribution of mature adults, drifting larvae and migrating juveniles. Scientific Reports. (Abstract)


We mapped the inferred long-distance migrations of four species of Amazonian goliath catfishes (Brachyplatystoma rousseauxii, B. platynemum, B. juruense and B. vaillantii) based on the presence of individuals with mature gonads and conducted statistical analysis of the expected long-distance downstream migrations of their larvae and juveniles. By linking the distribution of larval, juvenile and mature adult size classes across the Amazon, the results showed: (i) that the main spawning regions of these goliath catfish species are in the western Amazon; (ii) at least three species—B. rousseauxii, B. platynemum, and B. juruense—spawn partially or mainly as far upstream as the Andes; (iii) the main spawning area of B. rousseauxii is in or near the Andes; and (iv) the life history migration distances of B. rousseauxii are the longest strictly freshwater fish migrations in the world. These results provide an empirical baseline for tagging experiments, life histories extrapolated from otolith microchemistry interpretations and other methods to establish goliath catfish migratory routes, their seasonal timing and possible return (homing) to western headwater tributaries where they were born.