Our Belgium colleague, Guy Teugels, who died on July 22nd, 2003 in his 50th year, was known the world-over for his contribution to the knowledge of African freshwater fishes, and especially for his expertise in the Clariidae, his favoured group.
After obtaining his PhD at the Catholic University of Leuven (1983), he started his career in France at the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle (MNHN) in Paris where he successively occupied positions of Associated lecturer (1984-87) and Associated assistant director (1987-88) at the Laboratoire d’Ichtyologie générale et appliquée. Very much liked and well-integrated in this team, he returned, however, to Belgium at the end of 1988 when he was offered the position of Curator of the Fish collection at the Musée royal de l’Afrique centrale (MRAC) of Tervuren. Since 1999, he also occupied a position of Professor at the University of Leuven (Laboratoire d’Anatomie comparée et Biodiversité).
Guy Teugels was mainly a systematicist, but with characteristic efficiency, he combined his studies with Aministrator at the head of the Ichthyology Laboratory of the MRAC. His primary research topic was biodiversity studies of African fresh- and brackish-water fishes, using classical biometry, osteology and zoogeography. He was also interested in ecology and even managed to complete his studies with genetic and cytogenetic data by collaborating with suitably qualified colleagues. Guy Teugels realised more than fifty research visits or field trips to practically all the African states between 1978 and 2001. He was deeply attached to this continent and its peoples and felt particularly concerned by problems linked to the impact of human activities (deforestation, construction of dams, agro-industrial pollution) on African fish populations; participating in several international or African programmes on the conservation of the biodiversity of African fishes. Guy Teugels also involved himself in numerous development projects for optimisation of the potential of some fish species for aquaculture in experimental conditions, especially in Western Africa. The scientific productivity resulting from these different activities is very impressive: more than one hundred publications in numerous journals, about fifty chapters in a variety of books and contributing editor to seven books concerning the African fish fauna. However, sadly due to his untimely death, he could not achieve a long-standing ambition to publish The Lower Guinea Fish Fauna which he was keen to complete. His important personal investment to the formation of numerous young scientists from Europe and especially Africa is also to be applauded: in his list of publications, the number of African co-authors markedly increases as the years pass.
Guy Teugels was a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of several European and African journals of zoological sciences and a referee for many more. He was also a consultant, as a freshwater fish specialist, for important international organisations such as UNESCO, ICLARM, WHO, WWF, FAO, etc.
As member of the French Society of Ichthyology, Guy Teugels participated regularly at the Editorial Board meetings and was a frequent visitor to this laboratory. He, thus, never lost contact and friendship with his French colleagues and continued to maintain successful scientific exchanges with them throughout his career. Moreover, on May 6th and 7th, 1999, he welcomed to Tervuren the SFI annual scientific and administrative meeting, which was for the first time organised outside of France. Guy Teugels took this opportunity to organise, together with his Belgium colleagues, a wide overview of Belgium ichthyology. He was very proud to present us the new organisation of the very beautiful fish collection at the MRAC, which was achieved mainly as a result of his own personal determination and commitment to this collection.
Everyone who came close to Guy Teugels will remember the almost unbelievable rate of professional activity and productivity he was able to achieve. This highly valuable scientist also had great human qualities; always able to enjoy the simple pleasures in life, he was a convivial friend who never lacked time for others. Our thoughts go to his family and friends, and his colleagues in Tervuren and Leuven.
Catherine OZOUF-COSTAZ & Robert TRAVERS
Cybium 2004, 28(1): 5-6.