Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences

Just Accepted

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The fish community of a small karstic watershed and its relationship with the physical habitat

Pedro Ratton , Paulo Pompeu , Rodrigo Ferreira

Abstract

We examined surface and subterranean sites in order to compare the fish fauna composition and physical habitat characteristics in a stream located in a Neotropical karst landscape in Brazil. We investigated the influence of physical habitat characteristic on the fish community and analyzed if subterranean habitats have additional effects responsible for shaping the fish community structure. During the sampling period, we collected 28 species distributed in three orders and nine families. Characiformes was the most diverse group in the studied area with 16 registered species. We did not find cave adapted fish species during this study although four non-troglomorphic species were sampled exclusively in the cave. The species composition was possibly influenced by environmental differences showing distinct patterns between the five studied sites. Canopy cover and percentage of organic matter on the streambed accounted for most of the variation observed in the fish fauna composition. In the studied system, Siluriformes have greater chances of occupying subterranean habitats, presenting higher relative abundance and richness inside the cave sites. We believe that number, size and position of subterranean spaces within a karst watershed have additional influences in the fish community composition through its selective pressures upon species traits.

MF17167  Accepted 26 January 2018

© CSIRO 2018