The ichthyofauna of the freshwater system of Southeast Asia is extremely diverse. A recent estimate of about 1000 species is probably an understatement. More than 10 new species are being added to the list annually. The distribution pattern of the Southeast Asian freshwater fishes can be divided into five zoogeographic regions. The first one is the Salween basin in Burma, with fishes mainly of the Indian subcontinent origin such as Amblypharyngodon atkinsoni, Bangana almorae and Brachydanio jayarami. The second zoogeographic area is the Mekong, Chao Phraya and Mae Khlong drainages which harbour fishes typical of the mainland of Southeast Asia such as Acanthorhodeus deignani, Barbichthys nitidus and Cirrhinus siamensis. The Malay Peninsula is the third region whose species composition is heavily influenced by the Siamese (such as Homaloptera smithi, Tuberoschistura baenzigeri and Botia beauforti) and Indonesian (such as Botia hymenophysa, Luciocephalus pulcher and Parosphromenus deissneri) elements. The islands of Sumatra, Borneo and Java are the fourth zoogeographic area of fish distribution. These islands show a high degree of endemism, especially in fishes of the family Belontiidae. Finally, the freshwater system of the Philippines is the last zoogeographic region of Southeast Asia. The area is characterized by the presence of closely related species of the cyprinids especially in Lake Lanao. Currently, high diversity of these freshwater fishes is being threatened by land development, such as deforestation, road construction and land expansion for plantation. Recent studies in the Gombak River basin show the extermination of 41 per cent of native fish species from 1969 to 1990. This is probably due to the construction of highways, logging, as well as land clearing for agriculture.
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