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Brazilian Journal of Biology

versión impresa ISSN 1519-6984versión On-line ISSN 1678-4375


PINTO-COELHO, RM. et al. The inverted trophic cascade in tropical plankton communities: impacts of exotic fish in the Middle Rio Doce lake district, Minas Gerais, Brazil. Braz. J. Biol. [online]. 2008, vol.68, n.4, suppl., pp.1025-1037. ISSN 1519-6984.

The present study deals with the ecological impacts of the introduction of two alien species of piscivorous fish in several lakes of the Middle Rio Doce lake district in Minas Gerais, Brazil. It was demonstrated that these effects were not restricted only to the fish community. The introduction of the predatory red piranha Pygocentrus nattereri and the tucunaré Cichla cf. ocellaris caused not only a sharp decrease in the number of native fish species, but also major shifts in other trophic levels. Just after the fish were introduced, most lakes began to show conspicuous changes in phytoplankton species composition, in which Cyanophyceae gradually came to dominate. The zooplankton community lost several species, and in some cases, such as Lake Carioca, all the cladoceran species disappeared. On the other hand, invertebrate predators, represented by the dipteran Chaoboridae, boomed in the lake, with higher densities of exotic species, probably as a result of the "ecological release" by reduction of the original fish fauna. There was a general trend of species loss in different trophic levels. All these changes are apparently associated with decreases in water quality. The present situation in these lakes demands new approaches to the management and conservation of these ecosystems.

Palabras clave : exotic species; eutrophication; trophic cascade; zooplankton; introductions.

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