South African Journal of Science
Print version ISSN 0038-2353
SWARTZ, Ernst R.; MWALE, Monica and HANNER, Robert. A role for barcoding in the study of African fish diversity and conservation. S. Afr. j. sci. [online]. 2008, vol.104, n.7-8, pp. 293-298. ISSN 0038-2353.
Africa has a rich diversity of marine and freshwater fishes, but very little taxonomic expertise or funding to describe it. New approaches to using modern technology, such as DNA barcoding, can facilitate collaboration between field biologists, reference collections and sequencing facilities to speed up the process of species identification and diversity assessments, provided specimen vouchers, tissues, photographs of the specimen and DNA sequences (barcodes) are clearly linked. The FISH-BOL project in Africa aims to establish a collaborative Pan-African regional working group to facilitate barcoding of fish across the continent and the surrounding FAO marine regions. This is being established through existing African biodiversity networks and global biodiversity programmes that are already in place. Barcoding is expected to inform African fisheries management and conservation through more accurate identification of species and their different life-history stages, by speeding up biodiversity assessments. Barcoding is an important development, contributing towards an evolutionary history perspective on which to base Africa's conservation strategies.