Citizen Scientists and Organizations sharing information

July 15th, 2020

The Ictio app was released in June 2018.  As of today there are 229 users, which have submitted 3,325 lists with fishing data. Users with the most activity are recording in Amazon and Jutaí, Madeira, Madre de Dios, Pachitea, Putumayo and Tapajós Basins. These are level 4 basins, according to the Venticinque et al (2016) classification.  These levels help us to organize the space in terms of a hierarchy of basins. The first level (BL1) refers to the entire basin, the second level (BL2) refers to the main tributary rivers, including the Amazon river channel, and Negro (Brazil), Putumayo River (Ecuador, Colombia, Peru and Brazil), Marañón (Peru) and Madeira (Peru, Bolivia and Brazil) rivers, and so on. 


In 2019, 1,889 lists were submitted, documenting 425 tons of fish. From Ictio’s fish list, the species with the most documented weight was the amazon dourada (Brachyplatystoma rousseauxii), our traveller fish.


Besides the basic information about fishing activity, Matsingenka fishers from south-east of Peru are using the comments field to register fish names in their own language, expanding the possibilities for how the information collected through Ictio can be used in local context. If you are curious, here two examples in matsigenka: Pygocentrus sp. is joma and Zungaro zungaro is omani.


Between January and March, 2020, 141 lists were shared through the app. Do you know which species was the first to be recorded this year? It was the catfish  Pimelodus blochii. Three individuals were caught in the Tambopata river, in Madre de Dios, south-east Peru. But the species with the most records were Prochilodus nigricans and Brycon sp. For the period, the most active users are in the BL4 basins of Madre de Dios and Amazonas/Solimões (between Juruá and Negro rivers). 


Another curious fact is that the fish’s names change a lot from one place to another: Prochilodus nigricans is known as sábalo in Bolivia; curimatã, curica or papa-terra in Brazil; bocachico in Colombia and  Ecuador; challua in Ecuador and boquichico in Peru.


The user with the most lists in Ictio this year lives in the middle course of the Amazon river.  “The fish we are registrering  are the ones we caught with fishnets, in the middle of the river, like the Brachyplatystoma platynemum, the Brachyplatystoma vaillantii, the Brachyplatystoma juruense and the Brachyplatystoma rousseauxii, besides other fish doing the piracema (spawning migration), like the Prochilodus nigricans. We are recording lists when fishers come to sell their fish in the floating traders houses. These days [from January to March] we are fishing less, because there are pink river dolphins and it is more difficult to fish”. But we hope to have more lists soon. “From the end of April until June more schools of fish will start to pass just in front of our community” highlighted our champion user, who knows and waits for the spawn migration. 


The size of the Amazon Basin, covering 7 millions square kilometers and crossing seven countries, makes the costs of research on this scale very expensive. There are many management and monitoring initiatives at local scales, but they are not connected. However, it is very common that people in the Amazon are marginalized from the decision-making processes. Helping to address these challenges, Ictio’s goal is to generate an open database about migratory fish for the entire Amazon Basin.  With robust data it is possible to deepen the understanding about migration patterns, and this knowledge can contribute to the sustainable management of fisheries and the conservation of priority freshwater systems. 


The Ictio database is quite large. We have data shared by Ictio’s users, through the app, and by partners, through an online platform. 


As of today, we have 30,429 fish observations shared by eight partners, using the platform The main data is from  Amazon Fish, Frankfurt Zoological Society (Peru), Instituto Sinchi (Colombia) and WCS (Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru). They aggregated important data up to the date, as well historical data since 1860, from Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, from over 80 different species. The fish with the most recorded kilos is  Prochilodus nigricans and the oldest record, from 1860, is of Mylossoma duriventre in the Tapajós Basin, in Brazil.


This compilation of open data is a result of the collaborative efforts of the Citizen Science for the Amazon Network, Amazon Fish and local projects that are articulating local organizations with indiginous and traditional people from the Amazon, fishers, management groups, associations and researchers.  Open data represents a commitment to make it available to everyone willing to consult and analyze them. Technological tools, such as the internet itself, made it possible for more people to have access to them, at the same time reducing the costs and the time required to do so. The main benefits of open data are to make research more transparent, allowing other researchers to verify the replicability of the results, facilitating the aggregation of information to generate more knowledge. 


Below are some maps and graphics that vizualize information that Ictio’s data is already providing us (and you also can download the public database at the BL4 level here)

Figure 1. Total number of lists submitted through Ictio (app and website) by BL4 Basin, April 2018 - March 2020. in the map, distribution of fishing observation events (lists), using data shared via platform and Ictio app between April 2018 and March 4, 2020. To date, there are 229 users of the Ictio application, who shared 3325 lists in 58 different points at the BL4 basin level (according to the classification of Venticinque et al. 2016). Eight institutions shared 16,360 lists in 136 BL4 basins on the platform.

Figure 2. Percentage of Lists with the presence of Dorado (Brachyplatystoma rousseauxxi) by BL4 level basins. From all available records in database, the gray areas represent basins with no information, white areas are basins where 0% of the lists include dorado, and the darkest basins are where 20-50% of the lists include this species. Red polygons indicate where there are more records of the species, based on data shared between April 2018 and March 2020. 

Figure 3. Number of lists shared with the Ictio Application by BL4 Basin, April 2018 - March 2020. Total number of lists: 3325. Gray areas represent basins with no information, white areas represent basins where there are less than 50 lists uploaded. Light blue and blue areas, basins where there was a greater contribution of data, allowing us to recognize Pachitea BL4 Basin and the main channels of the Amazon and Madeira, including the Madeira headwaters.

Figure 4. Location of the basins with the largest volume recorded for each species (kg) (applicable), between April 2018 and March 2020. Data taken from 3325 fishing lists shared via Ictio app between April 2018 and March 2020.

Figure 5. Total Kilograms of fish caught by species, April 2018 - March 2020. The dorado (Brachiplatystoma rosseauxii) and yaraqui (Semaprochilodus insignis) are the species with the highest total weight recorded in the Ictio app. However, both species are surpassed by the aggregated amount of fish species not yet available in the app. Data taken from 3325 fishing lists shared via the Ictio app between April 2018 and March 2020 Total: 871,535 kg of 22 species, where one is "Other Species”. Note that “Other Species” represent 318 700 kg, more than all the other categories combined - an interesting challenge for the future, both in data collection and analysis!