Acta Limnologica Brasiliensia
Acta Limnologica Brasiliensia
Original Article

Environmental variables as predictors of fish community composition in semiarid aquatic systems

Variáveis ambientais como preditoras da assembleia de peixes em sistemas aquáticos semiáridos

Elvio Sergio Figueredo Medeiros; Marcio Joaquim da Silva; Telton Pedro Anselmo Ramos; Robson Tamar Costa Ramos

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Aim: To understand the distribution of fish species and their use of habitat, a range of environmental variables were evaluated as predictors of fish assemblage composition and richness in tropical semiarid aquatic systems.

Methods: We surveyed the species composition of fish assemblages in semiarid aquatic systems and established their degree of association with the structure of the aquatic habitat. Sites consisted of stream reaches with surface water flow, isolated temporary pools, and man-made reservoirs. Fish sampling was conducted on four occasions during the wet (April and June 2006) and dry seasons (September and December 2006). The correlation between richness and abundance with the habitat structure was evaluated using stepwise multiple regression. Patterns of variation in fish assemblage composition across sites were evaluated using Nonmetric Multidimensional Scaling, and the Indicator Species Analysis was used to determine which species were significant indicators of sites. To establish multivariate correlations and test the hypothesis of local fish composition being associated with the environmental variables we used a Canonical Correspondence Analysis.

Results: Morphometric variables, stream reach width, stream length and elevation explained 75.6% of the variation in fish richness. Macrophyte cover and overhanging vegetation added to the predictive power of the model equation, where the final model explained 86.9% of the variation in fish richness. Canonical Correspondence Analysis showed a significant relationship between fish composition data and site morphology (altitude, bank slope and littoral depth). Among the water quality, habitat composition and substrate variables, temperature, sand, and gravel showed higher correlation with the CCA axes.

Conclusions: These results indicated that fish communities assume different structures and compositions across different habitat types following the environmental heterogeneity in dryland aquatic systems.


intermittent streams, reservoirs, conservation, substrate composition


Objetivo: Para entender a distribuição das espécies de peixes e seu uso do habitat, uma série de variáveis ambientais foi avaliada como preditoras da composição e riqueza de assembleias de peixes em sistemas aquáticos semiáridos tropicais.

Métodos: Nós avaliamos a composição de espécies de peixes em sistemas aquáticos semiáridos e estabelecemos seu grau de associação com a estrutura do habitat aquático. Os locais amostrados consistiram em trechos de riachos temporários com fluxo de água superficial, poças temporárias isoladas e reservatórios artificiais. A amostragem de peixes foi realizada em quatro ocasiões durante as estações úmida (abril e junho de 2006) e seca (setembro e dezembro de 2006). A correlação entre riqueza e abundância com a estrutura do habitat foi avaliada utilizando regressão múltipla. Os padrões de variação na composição da comunidade de peixes entre os locais foram avaliados utilizando Escalonamento Multidimensional Não-Métrico, e a Análise de Espécies Indicadoras foi utilizada para determinar quais espécies eram indicadoras significativas dos locais. Para estabelecer correlações multivariadas e testar a hipótese de que a composição local de peixes está associada às variáveis ambientais, utilizamos uma Análise de Correspondência Canônica.

Resultados: A regressão múltipla mostrou que as variáveis morfométricas, largura do trecho do riacho, comprimento do riacho e elevação explicaram 75,6% da variação na riqueza de peixes. A cobertura de macrófitas e a vegetação marginal adicionaram ao poder preditivo do modelo da equação, onde o modelo final explicou 86,9% da variação na riqueza de peixes. A Análise de Correspondência Canônica mostrou uma relação significativa entre os dados de composição de peixes e a morfologia dos locais amostrados (altitude, inclinação da margem e profundidade litorânea). Dentre as variáveis de qualidade da água, composição do habitat e substrato, a temperatura, areia e cascalho apresentaram maior correlação com os eixos da CCA.

Conclusões: Esses resultados indicaram que as comunidades de peixes assumiram diferentes estruturas e composições nos diferentes tipos de habitat de acordo com a heterogeneidade ambiental em sistemas aquáticos de regiões secas.


rios intermitentes, estrutura do habitat, conservação, composição do substrato


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