Amazon Adventure: How Tiny Fish Are Saving the World's Largest Rainforest

photos by Keith Ellenbogen. 80p. (Scientists in the Field). bibliog. index. photos. websites. HMH. Jul. 2017. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780544352995.
RedReviewStarGr 5–8—Scientists studying fish ecology in specific biomes often dwell on the evils of overfishing, but along the Río Negro, a major tributary to the mighty Amazon, scientist Scott Dowd has noticed something radically different: a fishing industry that not only supports the human population in this rain forest area but also protects the ecology. Essential to the balance are thousands of tiny fish, or "piaba," such as cardinal tetras, which are beloved by aquarium keepers for their brilliant shades of neon reds and electric blues. Dowd was appalled on his first visit to the region after seeing the vast numbers of these small fish being brought to the market for sale, believing the entire ecology of the rivers was at risk. He ultimately learned that the majority of them would have died as the rainy season ended and the once-flooded Amazonian forest dried out. Instead, the careful management of the local fishermen preserved the forest and "saved" the fish. Since his initial visit in 1991, Dowd and other members of his research team have been exploring this unusual balance between wild nature and human economy, finding the other animals this industry protects, from pink dolphins to Goliath birdeater tarantulas. Montgomery's knowledgeable text paints a clear picture of this way of life that's relatively unknown to many. A plethora of color photos splash across the pages, some muddy in texture owing to the tannin-hued waters of the Río Negro, but their message is as lucid as the text. This fishing industry is a lifesaver.
VERDICT Another addition to a spectacular series, this is an eye-opening first purchase for science collections.

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