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Concept: Xingu River


Tropical rainforest regions have large hydropower generation potential that figures prominently in many nations' energy growth strategies. Feasibility studies of hydropower plants typically ignore the effect of future deforestation or assume that deforestation will have a positive effect on river discharge and energy generation resulting from declines in evapotranspiration (ET) associated with forest conversion. Forest loss can also reduce river discharge, however, by inhibiting rainfall. We used land use, hydrological, and climate models to examine the local “direct” effects (through changes in ET within the watershed) and the potential regional “indirect” effects (through changes in rainfall) of deforestation on river discharge and energy generation potential for the Belo Monte energy complex, one of the world’s largest hydropower plants that is currently under construction on the Xingu River in the eastern Amazon. In the absence of indirect effects of deforestation, simulated deforestation of 20% and 40% within the Xingu River basin increased discharge by 4-8% and 10-12%, with similar increases in energy generation. When indirect effects were considered, deforestation of the Amazon region inhibited rainfall within the Xingu Basin, counterbalancing declines in ET and decreasing discharge by 6-36%. Under business-as-usual projections of forest loss for 2050 (40%), simulated power generation declined to only 25% of maximum plant output and 60% of the industry’s own projections. Like other energy sources, hydropower plants present large social and environmental costs. Their reliability as energy sources, however, must take into account their dependence on forests.

Concepts: Hydrology, Amazon River, Brazil, Rainforest, Tropical rainforest, Amazon Basin, Amazon Rainforest, Xingu River


An emerging evolutionary perspective suggests that nature and human nature are less “red in tooth and claw” than generally acknowledged by a competition-based view of the biological world. War is not always present in human societies. Peace systems, defined as groups of neighboring societies that do not make war on each other, exist on different continents. A comparison of three peace systems–the Upper Xingu River basin tribes of Brazil, the Iroquois Confederacy of upper New York State, and the European Union–highlight six features hypothesized to be important in the creation and maintenance of intersocietal peace: (i) an overarching social identity, (ii) interconnections among subgroups, (iii) interdependence, (iv) nonwarring values, (v) symbolism and ceremonies that reinforce peace, and (vi) superordinate institutions for conflict management. The existence of peace systems demonstrates that it is possible to create social systems free of war.

Concepts: Life, Sociology, Anthropology, Amazon River, Evolutionary psychology, New York, Iroquois, Xingu River


The 280 000 km² Xingu indigenous lands and protected areas (ILPAs) corridor, inhabited by 24 indigenous peoples and about 215 riverine (ribeirinho) families, lies across active agriculture frontiers in some of the historically highest-deforestation regions of the Amazon. Much of the Xingu is anthropogenic landscape, densely inhabited and managed by indigenous populations over the past millennium. Indigenous and riverine peoples' historical management and use of these landscapes have enabled their long-term occupation and ultimately their protection. The corridor vividly demonstrates how ILPAs halt deforestation and why they may account for a large part of the 70 per cent reduction in Amazon deforestation below the 1996-2005 average since 2005. However, ongoing and planned dams, road paving, logging and mining, together with increasing demand for agricultural commodities, continued degradation of upper headwaters outside ILPA borders and climate change impacts may render these gains ephemeral. Local peoples will need new, bottom-up, forms of governance to gain recognition for the high social and biological diversity of these territories in development policy and planning, and finance commensurate with the value of their ecosystem services. Indigenous groups' reports of changing fire and rainfall regimes may themselves evidence climate change impacts, a new and serious threat.

Concepts: Biodiversity, Culture, Ethnic group, Amazon River, Indigenous peoples, Indigenous peoples of the Americas, Amazon Rainforest, Xingu River


The monotypic species Ossubtus xinguense was originally described based on scarce material putatively divided into juveniles and adults. Ossubtus xinguense has a restricted distribution and was previously known only from a few rapids downstream of the city of Altamira, in the Volta Grande stretch of the Middle Xingu River. Until recently, the species was rare in museums because its habitat (large rapids) is difficult to sample. Large-scale collecting efforts targeting rapids throughout the Xingu River basin have yielded an abundance of new material. Based on an analysis of the type series and freshly preserved specimens, we redescribe O. xinguense and provide detailed osteological descriptions along with comments about its relationships within Serrasalmidae. Furthermore, we expand the geographical distribution of the species and discuss its conservation status.

Concepts: Conservation biology, Biology, Species, Endangered species, Drainage basin, Amazon River, Biodiversity Action Plan, Xingu River


Brachychalcinus reisi, a new species of characid fish, is described from the rio Curuá, tributary of rio Iriri, rio Xingu basin, Serra do Cachimbo, Pará State, Brazil. The new species can be distinguished from its congeners by the presence of a series of longitudinal black wavy stripes on the entire body and by a lower number of longitudinal scale rows between dorsal-fin origin and lateral line (7-8 vs. 8-12). Additionally, the new species differs from B. copei, B. parnaibae, and B. retrospina by the lower number of branched dorsal-fin rays (9 vs.10). This is the first description of a new species of the subfamily since the revisionary study of Stethaprioninae, published almost 30 years ago.

Concepts: Family, Species, Amazon River, Brazil, Vitória, Characidae, Espírito Santo, Xingu River


Concentrations of As, Cd, Cu, Cr, Pb, Hg, and Ni were analyzed during rainy and dry seasons in water, sediment, soil, and two fish species. The analysis took place at four points in the Xingu River, one point in the Fresco River, and two mining pits in the southeastern area of the Eastern Amazon, Brazil. In the water, the total concentration of As (>0.14μg/L) was higher than the local reference values at all sampling points and in both seasons. Ordination analysis (PCA) highlighted As and Cu elements in the water. PERMANOVA showed that the metals behaved differently in the water throughout the monitored season and between sampling points. The sites with mining activity were the regions that were the most contaminated by metals. Samples of sediment (Ni>18mg/kg and Cr>37.30mg/kg) and soil (Pb>72mg/kg, Cr>75mg/kg and Ni>30mg/Kg) showed concentrations above the recommended by local legislation. Metal values in the muscle of both fish species were relatively low at all sampling points and in both monitored seasons. Concentrations in water, sediment, and soil showed that some points of the Xingu River, Fresco River and mining pits are contaminated by trace elements, mainly As, Hg, Cr, Pb, and Ni. This was the first study about trace elements in the Middle Xingu River, which leads us to conclude that rainfall and cassiterite mining activities strongly influence the mobilization of metals, especially in abiotic compartments. However, the fish analyzed did not exhibit relevant levels of contamination. This indicates low risk for human consumption. Additionally, results highlight the need to establish local criteria to define contamination limits for different metals while taking into account local geochemistry particularities and biome diversity.

Concepts: Iron, Chemistry, Chemical element, Metal, Copper, Amazon River, Brazil, Xingu River


The genus Pseudacanthicus comprises six valid species distributed in the Amazon basin and Caribbean coastal drainages from Guyana to French Guiana: P. serratus, P. fordii, P. histrix, P. spinosus, P. leopardus and P. pitanga. A new species of Pseudacanthicus is described from the Rio Xingu Basin, distinguished from its congeners by the following combination of characters: presence of anastomose dark blotches forming continuous zigzag bands alongside longitudinal keels; presence of dark blotches on ventral surface of body and head; all fins with orange to red colour on unbranched rays and sometimes subsequent branched rays. Brief comments on ornamental fisheries and conservation of the new species are also provided.

Concepts: Amazon River, Brazil, South America, Amazon Basin, Suriname, French Guiana, Xingu River, Loricariidae


Teleocichla preta nov. sp. inhabits the rapids along the Rio Xingu and lower portion of the Rio Iriri. It is the largest species in the genus, reaching 121·3 mm standard length (LS ) while others do not reach more than 87·8 mm LS . Teleocichla preta is distinguished from all other species of Teleocichla by the unique blackish (in live specimens) or dark brown (preserved specimens) overall colouration of the body, which masks the faint vertical bars or zig-zag pattern of blotches on the flanks. Teleocichla preta also has a deeper body and a deep laterally compressed caudal peduncle, unlike any other congener, as well as a stout lower pharyngeal tooth plate bearing molariform teeth on its median area.

Concepts: Biology, Cichlid, Fish, Amazon River, Brazil, Fishkeeping, Xingu River, Teleocichla


To evaluate facial morphology of non-mixed indigenous people living in the Xingu region. Studies on these populations report that the total genetic diversity is as high as that observed for other continental populations. On the other hand, eating habits are different between indigenous and urban population, as indigenous people still have traditional habits.

Concepts: Genetics, Evolution, Culture, Amazon River, Canada, Brazil, Indigenous peoples, Xingu River


Indigenous people of the Xingu river present a similar tooth wear pattern, practise exclusive breast-feeding, no pacifier use, and have a large intertribal genetic distance.

Concepts: Human genome, Amazon River, Pacifier, Brazil, South America, Indigenous peoples, Amazon Rainforest, Xingu River