Overview

In October 2007 I joined fellow ichthyologists José Birindelli, Leandro Sousa, André Netto Fereira (all from the Museum of Zoology at the University of São Paulo), and Mark Sabaj Pérez (from the Academy of Natural Sciences) on an ichthyofaunal inventory of headwaters of the Tapajós and Xingu rivers that drain the Serro do Cachimbo (Pipe Mountain) highlands in southwestern Para State, Brazil. The Serra do Cachimbo comprises 400 to 600 m elevation uplands in the geologically ancient Brazilian Shield. Rivers that drain it are interrupted by a multitude of waterfalls and rapids that make for complicated fish biogeographical patterns and contribute to an abundance of endemic species. 

        To access the Serra do Cachimbo, we drove north from Cuiaba, the capital of the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso, along the then unfinished highway BR-163. The asphalt portion of this road took us through most of Mato Grosso State, where almost all the natural rainforest and cerrado savannah forest had been converted into soybean plantations. The unfinished, laterite portion of the road took us into the "Arc of Deforestation," a region of southern Para State where rainforest is being rapidly logged and converted to cattle pasture.

        Development was rampant throughout the Serra do Cachimbo area, including illegal logging, cattle farms, road construction, and the construction of one medium-sized hydroelectric project. We were fortunate enough to arrive at the dam construction site just a short time after a river channel had been dewatered, allowing us to collect hundreds of specimens of mid-channel and bottom-dwelling species that are often rarely encountered. For more travel and fish photos from this expedition, check out the website put together by José Birindelli and Leandro Sousa here.

        Specimens collected during this expedition are now cataloged at MZUSP, where they continue to benefit ichthyological research. Published papers that have already benefited from collections and observations made during this trip include the following:​ 

 

Work

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1. Stopping to sample at a pool along BR-163. 2. A herd of cattle interupts our drive. 3. Cooling down in a rapid (L to R): Mark Sabaj Pérez, me, André Netto Fereira, Leandro Sousa, and José Birindelli. 4. A logging truck on the move. 5. Collecting fishes from a channel that had recently been dewatered for a dam in the upper Curuá River. 6. Baryancistrus sp. L019. 7. With a Potamotrygon cf. motoro. 8. Getting ready to seine. 9. Receiving the verdict on our truck: lots of fluids leaking an an expensive repair job. 10. The Pipe Expedition team.

Fishes

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1. Panaque armbrusteri, described by Lujan et al. (2010) based in part on specimens from this trip. 2. Peckoltia sp. 3. Hypostomus sp. 4. Baryancistrus sp. L019. 5. Sorubim lima. 6. Hemisorubim platyrhynchus7. Myloplus cf. schomburgkii. 8. Hydrolycus tataiaua.

Sponsors

This fieldwork was sponsored by NSF grant DEB-0315963, the All Catfish Species Inventory

2007 Expedition to the Serra do Cachimbo, Para State, Brazil