Functional diversity of fish in tropical estuaries: A traits-based approach of communities in Pernambuco, Brazil

Research paper by C.A.B. Silva-Júnior, B. Mérigot, F. Lucena-Frédou, B.P. Ferreira, M.S. Coxey, S.M. Rezende, T. Frédou

Indexed on: 07 Oct '16Published on: 29 Aug '16Published in: Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science


Environmental changes and human activities may have strong impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. While biodiversity is traditionally based on species richness and composition, there is a growing concern to take into account functional diversity to assess and manage species communities. In spite of their economic importance, functional diversity quantified by a traits-based approach is still poorly documented in tropical estuaries. In this study, the functional diversity of fishes was investigated within four estuaries in Pernambuco state, northeast of Brazil. These areas are subject to different levels of human impact (e.g. mangrove deforestation, shrimp farming, fishing etc.) and environmental conditions. Fishes were collected during 34 scientific surveys. A total of 122 species were identified and 12 functional traits were quantified describing two main functions: food acquisition and locomotion. Fish abundance and functional dissimilarities data were combined into a multivariate analysis, the Double Principal Coordinate Analysis, to identify the functional typology of fish assemblages according to the estuary. Results showed that Itapissuma, the largest estuary with a wider mangrove forest area, differs from the other three estuaries, showing higher mean values per samples of species richness S and quadratic entropy Q. Similarly, it presented a different functional typology (the first two axes of the DPCoA account for 68.7% of total inertia, while those of a traditional PCA based solely on species abundances provided only 17.4%). Conversely, Suape, Sirinhaém, and to a lower extent Rio Formoso, showed more similarity in their diversity. This result was attributed to their predominantly marine influenced hydrological features, and similar levels of species abundances and in morphological traits. Overall, this study, combining diversity indices and a recent multivariate analysis to access species contribution to functional typology, allows to deepen diversity assessment by providing additional information regarding the functional pattern of fish assemblages.

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