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With more than 29,000 species, fishes are the most diverse group of vertebrates on the planet. Of that number, more than 12,000 species are found in freshwater ecosystems, which occupy less than 1 percent of the Earth's surface and contain only 2.4 percent of plant and animal species. But, on a hectare-for-hectare basis, freshwater ecosystems are richer in species than more extensive terrestrial and marine habitats. Examination of the distribution patterns of fishes in these fresh waters reveals much about continental movements and climate changes and has long been critical to biogeographical studies and research in ecology and evolution.
This reference book maps the 169 fish families that swim in fresh water around the world. Each family account includes the class, subclass, and order; a pronunciation guide to the family name; life cycle information; and interesting natural history facts. Each account is illustrated, many with historical nineteenth-century woodcuts.
Originally published in 2001, now available in paperback with a new preface.