Journal of Fish Biology Special Issue on Biology and Ecology of African Freshwater Fishes

The freshwater and estuarine ecosystems of Africa are rich in freshwater fishes and include many different habitats, such as underground systems, desert springs and pools, and rivers and lakes ranging from very small to very large and deep. African freshwater fishes range in size from some of the smallest species of fishes, to some of the largest. African freshwater fishes therefore represent a diverse and important component of the ecology and food webs of many different ecosystems. Moreover, the diverse fish assemblages of rivers, reservoirs and lakes are considered an important source of food security and livelihoods for many people on the African continent, and particularly for the rural poor (Welcomme, 2011). A report by UNEP (2010) noted that over 200 million of Africa's 1 billion people regularly consume fish, and nearly half of this is from inland fisheries. Darwall et al. (2011) also showed that the areas where there is greatest richness of freshwater biodiversity tend to coincide with areas of greatest concentration of rural poor who are likely to be most directly reliant on the services supplied by freshwater systems and their biodiversity.

Despite the diversity of fishes in Africa, and their ecological and socio-economic importance, our knowledge of them is relatively poor. Lundberg et al. (2000) noted that their estimate of 2850 species of freshwater fishes in Africa was certainly an underestimate, and currently FishBase (Froese & Pauly, 2017) lists 3367 species in the Ethiopian Zoogeographic realm (i.e., Africa excluding northern Africa but including the southern Arabian Peninsula and Madagascar). An assessment of the conservation status of 2836 African freshwater species, for IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species found that over 500 species (18% of those assessed) were Data Deficient, with insufficient information on their taxonomy, ecology, or distribution to assess whether they are threatened or not (Snoeks et al., 2011).

Nevertheless, there is no doubt that freshwater fishes are significantly affected by many threats; in particular, habitat modification, pollution, overfishing, species invasions and climate change (Thieme et al., 2010; Snoeks et al., 2011). As societal concern about global biodiversity and food security increases, there is an urgent need to gain a better understanding of the biology, ecology, diversity and distribution of African freshwater fishes, before they and their habitats are compromised or completely lost.

The purpose of this Special Issue of the Journal of Fish Biology is to bring together new information on African freshwater fishes. The geographic scope of the issue covers all continental Africa, Madagascar, and other small islands around Africa. We will consider papers that discuss all aspects of the biology and ecology of African freshwater fishes. We will also consider papers on fishes in estuarine habitats, provided that these papers are focused on fishes that spend part of their life cycle in freshwaters. We welcome papers that report new scientific research and fieldwork that supplies novel information on the biology, ecology and distribution of these species. Reports on new records of species may also be considered, but these records must be important in terms of representing a significant increase in the known range of the species, or must address new information on some other important aspect of the species’ biology and ecology. We are also interested in review papers that synthesize existing knowledge on fish fauna and present them in a way that brings new insight to the topic. Papers that discuss the application of studies on fish biology to their conservation are also welcome. The studies of some species or populations will also be relevant to aquaculture or fisheries, but papers that focus primarily on fisheries management and aquaculture, rather than fish biology, do not fit the scope of the Special Issue.

Please consult the Journal of Fish Biology website, and check previous Special Issues to obtain more information about the expected scope and style of these issues. The Journal web site is at:

At this time please do not submit manuscripts for this Special Issue to the Journal. Instead, please notify Olaf Weyl (O.Weyl (at) and Ian Harrison (iharrison (at) of your interest in submitting a manuscript, supplying a title and short abstract.

Expected timeframe for production
July 2018
Deadline for submission of draft manuscripts

December 2018
Complete review of submitted manuscripts

July 2019
Expected publication date

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Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith