New Cichlid Species – Ptychochromis loisellei

The Wildlife Conservation Society has announced that one of their ichthyologists from the New York Aquarium received the ultimate honor recently, when a freshwater fish discovered on the African island nation of Madagascar was named after him.

Dr. Paul Loiselle, who has dedicated much of his career safeguarding Madagascar’s little known freshwater fishes, received the honor from a team of biologists from the American Museum of Natural History, after they named a new species of cichlid Ptychochromis loisellei. The announcement was made in a recent edition of American Museum Novitates. [pdf]

The authors of the paper wrote that the new species was “named for our colleague Paul Loiselle in recognition of his many contributions to the understanding and conservation of Madagascar’s freshwater fishes.”

The newly described black and gold cichlid is about five inches long, and known locally as a “garaka.” It can be found living in several river systems in the northeastern part of the country.

Ptychochromis loisellei
(Photo courtesy WCS)

Loiselle himself has discovered fifteen freshwater fishes during his fourteen years of field work in Madagascar. He is considered one of the world’s experts on cichlids – a family of perch-like fishes comprising nearly 2,000 different species. Many cichlids are popular in aquarium trade, including angelfish, oscars, and discus.

Large-scale deforestation and other kinds of human impact have put Madagascar’s unique wildlife at great risk. Despite limited resources, the Malagasy government has made conservation a priority in recent years, announcing plans to set up new protected areas. To educate and inspire the public about its efforts to save this island-nation’s amazing wildlife, the Wildlife Conservation Society will open a new Madagascar exhibit in 2009 at the Bronx Zoo, as part of a newly announced $650 million capital campaign called “Gateways to Conservation.”

loisellei2.jpg

(Photo by Paul Loiselle.)

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Perciformes
Family: Cichlidae

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