– In this study, we investigated how taxonomic and functional diversity of fish communities is influenced by forest cover and mesohabitat types in Neotropical lowland streams. We sampled fish fauna of 126 five‐metre‐long mesohabitats using an electrofishing unit in forested (n = 3) and deforested (n = 3) streams in the upper Paraná River basin, south‐eastern Brazil. According to velocity and depth, three mesohabitat types have been considered: riffles (shallow and fast‐flowing habitat), pools (deep and slow‐flowing habitat) and runs (intermediate depth and velocity). Seven functional traits and 27 trait categories related to ecological, behavioural and life‐history aspects of fish were considered. Our results indicate that forest cover and mesohabitat type influence fish communities in different ways. Whereas deforestation affects communities primarily through changes in diversity (functional and taxonomic), mesohabitat types determine changes in the functional composition. The increased diversity in deforested mesohabitats is driven by a decrease in species turnover among habitat patches within streams. This can be attributed to new feeding opportunities and microhabitat availabilities in deforested streams so favours the occurrence of species having a particular set of traits, indicating a strong habitat–trait relationship.
The aim of this study was to verify whether taxonomic and functional composition of stream fishes vary under three different preservation conditions of riparian zone: preserved (PRE), intermediate condition (INT), and degraded (DEG). Five stream stretches representing each condition were selected. Samples were taken from each stream in three occasions during the dry seasons from 2004 to 2007. Electro fishing (PRE and INT), sieves, dip nets, and hand seines (DEG) were used according to the characteristics of each sampled site. Overall, 46 species were registered. Differences in the taxonomic and functional species composition among groups were found, following the condition of riparian zones. The ichthyofauna recorded in the PRE was typical to pristine environments, consisting of species with specialized habits, notably benthic insectivores, intolerant, and rheophilics. In the INT group, replacement of riparian forest with shrubs and/or grasses created environmental conditions which favor the occurrence of tolerant species but also harbor a residual fauna of sensitive species. DEG streams presented mostly detritivores, tolerant, small sized fishes which occupy the surface and preferred slow water flux. Changes in the species composition were represented by the occurrence and dominance of tolerant species in detriment of the more sensitive and specialist species, following the gradient of degradation in the riparian zone. Forested streams act as unique habitats to many specialized species and it can be presumable that the degradation of riparian vegetation can generate biotic homogenization which may reduce species diversity and ecosystem services.O presente estudo verificou se a composição taxonômica e funcional de peixes de riachos varia ao longo de três condições de preservação da zona ripária: preservada (PRE), preservação intermediária (INT) e degradada (DEG). Cinco riachos de cada grupo foram selecionados e amostras foram obtidas em cada riacho em três ocasiões em períodos secos de 2004 a 2007. Pesca elétrica (PRE e INT), peneiras, puçás e redes de arrasto (DEG) foram usados de acordo com as características de cada local de coleta. No geral, 46 espécies foram registradas. Foram registradas diferenças na composição taxonômica e funcional de espécies entre os grupos, seguindo o gradiente de degradação da zona ripária. A ictiofauna encontrada em PRE foi típica de ambientes prístinos, consistindo em espécies de hábitos especializados, notavelmente bentônicas, insetívoras, intolerantes e reofílicas. No grupo INT, a substituição da floresta ripária por herbáceas ou gramíneas cria condições ambientais que favorecem a ocorrência de espécies tolerantes, mas também abriga uma fauna residual de espécies sensíveis. O grupo DEG foi representado principalmente por espécies detritívoras, tolerantes e de superfície. As modificações na composição de espécies foram representadas pela ocorrência e dominância de espécies tolerantes em detrimento da redução/eliminação daquelas mais sensíveis e especializadas, acompanhando o grad...
In this study, we investigated the influence of environmental variables (predictor variables) on the species richness, species diversity, functional diversity, and functional redundancy (response variables) of stream fish assemblages in an agroecosystem that harbor a gradient of degradation. We hypothesized that, despite presenting high richness or diversity in some occasions, fish communities will be more functionally redundant with stream degradation. Species richness, species diversity, and functional redundancy were predicted by the percentage of grass on the banks, which is a characteristic that indicates degraded conditions, whereas the percentage of coarse substrate in the stream bottom was an important predictor of all response variables and indicates more preserved conditions. Despite being more numerous and diverse, the groups of species living in streams with an abundance of grass on the banks perform similar functions in the ecosystem. We found that riparian and watershed land use had low predictive power in comparison to the instream habitat. If there is any interest in promoting ecosystem functions and fish diversity, conservation strategies should seek to restore forests in watersheds and riparian buffers, protect instream habitats from siltation, provide wood debris, and mitigate the proliferation of grass on stream banks. Such actions will work better if they are planned together with good farming practices because these basins will continue to be used for agriculture and livestock in the future.
Protecting riparian vegetation around streams is vital in reducing the detrimental effects of environmental change on freshwater ecosystems and in maintaining aquatic biodiversity. Thus, identifying ecological thresholds is useful for defining regulatory limits and for guiding the management of riparian zones towards the conservation of freshwater biota. Using nationwide data on fish and invertebrates occurring in small Brazilian streams, we estimated thresholds of native vegetation loss in which there are abrupt changes in the occurrence and abundance of freshwater bioindicators and tested whether there are congruent responses among different biomes, biological groups and riparian buffer sizes. Mean thresholds of native vegetation cover loss varied widely among biomes, buffer sizes and biological groups: ranging from 0.5% to 77.4% for fish, from 2.9% to 37.0% for aquatic invertebrates and from 3.8% to 43.2% for a subset of aquatic invertebrates. Confidence intervals for thresholds were wide, but the minimum values of these intervals were lower for the smaller riparian buffers (50 and 100 m) than larger ones (200 and 500 m), indicating that land use should be kept away from the streams. Also, thresholds occurred at a lower percentage of riparian vegetation loss in the smaller buffers, and were critically lower for invertebrates: reducing only 6.5% of native vegetation cover within a 50‐m riparian buffer is enough to cross thresholds for invertebrates. Synthesis and applications. The high variability in biodiversity responses to loss of native riparian vegetation suggests caution in the use of a single riparian width for conservation actions or policy definitions nationwide. The most sensitive bioindicators can be used as early warning signals of abrupt changes in freshwater biodiversity. In practice, maintaining at least 50‐m wide riparian reserves on each side of streams would be more effective to protect freshwater biodiversity in Brazil. However, incentives and conservation strategies to protect even wider riparian reserves (~100 m) and also taking into consideration the regional context will promote a greater benefit. This information should be used to set conservation goals and to create complementary mechanisms and policies to protect wider riparian reserves than those currently required by the federal law.
We tested the hypothesis that streams in deforested areas shelter different fish communities to nearby forested areas, and that these disparities are due to environmental parameters that limit or benefit different species according to their functional traits. We compared the community composition of three south east Brazilian streams flanked by riparian forest with three nearby streams in deforested areas. The following functional traits were considered: diet, habitat use, water flow preference, size, and hypoxia tolerance. Differentiation between forested and deforested streams corresponded with the different contributions of three functional groups. Species reported in the literature to be hypoxia tolerant, and exhibiting a variable combination of the other traits prevailed in deforested streams, although we did not find substantial differences in oxygen levels between forested and deforested streams. In forested streams, benthic species associated with a high water flow and an insectivorous diet were dominant. Changes in streams induced by deforestation which are associated with habitat availability, food resources, and physicochemical conditions appear to restrict the occurrence of specialized species and instead benefit tolerant generalists.A hipótese de que as alterações ambientais causadas pelo desmatamento nos riachos podem restringir a ocorrência de espécies a partir de suas características funcionais foi testada. Comparamos a composição das comunidades de três riachos do sudeste do Brasil providos de floresta riparia nas suas margens com três riachos da mesma região com zona ripária desmatada. Os seguintes atributos funcionais foram considerados: dieta, uso de hábitat, preferência por fluxo, tamanho e tolerância à hipóxia. A diferenciação dos riachos, em especial entre os riachos florestados e desmatados, foi maior do que o esperado ao acaso e correspondeu à contribuição diferencial de três grupos funcionais. As espécies indicadas na literatura como sendo tolerantes à hipóxia e que apresentaram combinação variável das outras características foram mais abundantes nos riachos desmatados, embora não tenhamos observado diferenças substanciais nos níveis de oxigênio dissolvido entre os riachos florestados e desmatados. Nos riachos florestados predominaram espécies de hábitos especializados, bentônicas, associadas com alta velocidade de água e dieta insetívora. As alterações nos riachos provocadas pelo desmatamento relacionadas com a disponibilidade de hábitat, recursos alimentares e condições físico-químicas restringem a ocorrência de grupos de espécies especializadas e beneficiam espécies tolerantes e generalistas.
Functional traits are important for understanding the links between species occurrence and environmental conditions. Identifying these links makes it possible to predict changes in species composition within communities under specific environmental conditions. We used functional traits related to habitat use and trophic ecology in order to assess the changes in fish community composition between streams with varying habitat structure. The relationship between the species traits and habitat characteristics was analyzed using an RLQ ordination analysis. Although species were widely distributed in habitats with different structures, physical conditions did favor some species based on their functional characteristics. Eight functional traits were found to be associated with stream habitat structure, allowing us to identify traits that may predict the susceptibility of fish species to physical habitat degradation.Os atributos funcionais são importantes para entender a ligação entre ocorrência das espécies e condições ambientais, permitindo predizer sobre as mudanças na composição de espécies em comunidades submetidas a condições ambientais específicas. Utilizamos atributos funcionais relacionados com o uso de habitat e ecologia trófica para avaliar as mudanças na composição de espécies de peixes em riachos com diferenças na estrutura física. O relacionamento entre os atributos das espécies e as variáveis ambientais foi avaliado por meio da análise de ordenação RLQ. Embora algumas espécies tenham sido amplamente distribuídas em hábitats com diferentes características, outras foram restritas por essas condições e este relacionamento está associado com as características morfológicas. Oito atributos funcionais foram capazes de detectar as variações na estrutura física do hábitat em riachos, permitindo a identificação de atributos que podem predizer a suscetibilidade das espécies de peixes para a degradação física do hábitat.
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