Print version ISSN 1679-6225
GONZALEZ, Nirson; LASSO, Carlos and ROSALES, Judith. Stability and spatio-temporal structure in fish assemblages of two floodplain lagoons of the lower Orinoco River. Neotrop. ichthyol. [online]. 2009, vol.7, n.4, pp. 719-736. ISSN 1679-6225. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1679-62252009000400022.
Fish assemblage structure and variability were analyzed in two floodplain lagoons (Las Arhuacas and Los Cardonales) along the lower Orinoco over a hydrological cycle. Every three months during continuous three-day sampling, experimental gill nets (5 to 12.5 cm of mesh opening) and 1 mm-mesh seine nets were utilized according to the types of habitats presents. A total of 133 fish species were found in Las Arhuacas and 95 species in Cardonales. Fifty five and 17 species were exclusive to Las Arhuacas and Los Cardonales respectively, and 77 were common to both lagoons. In Las Arhuacas, the most speciesrich orders were Characiformes, Siluriformes, Perciformes and Gymnotiformes and in Los Cardonales, the most species-rich orders were Characiformes, Siluriformes, Clupeiformes and Perciformes. The richness, abundance and biomass were significantly higher (p < 0.001) in Arhuacas than in Cardonales. In general, the fishes assemblage was highly variable during the high water phase and moderately stable during low water phase in both lagoons, with more stability or less variability in Cardonales than Arhuacas. Also, there were significant differences in the fish assemblages between the two lagoons, mainly during low waters (ANOSIM; p < 0.001). The species that contributed most to the mean dissimilarity between the lagoons were Hypostomus argus, Aphanotorulus ammophilus, Potamorhina altamazonica, Prochilodus mariae, Loricaria gr. cataphracta, Oxydoras sifontesi, Hydrolycus armatus, Hyphopthalmus edentatus and Pterodoras rivasi. The last four species were more commonly collected in Los Cardonales. Also, the species of small size (mainly SL < 5 cm) such as Rhinosardinia amazonica, Moenkhausia sp. 1 "lepidura", Moenkhausia sp. 2, Aphyocharax alburnus, Characidium sp. 1, Moenkhausia sp. 3, Exodon paradoxus and Roeboides dientonito contributed to the mean dissimilarity among the beach and aquatic vegetation habitats. The patterns of the species assemblage organization were related to the dynamics of the floods. Non-random (i. e., deterministic) associations between species caused by the selection of habitats and/or to biological interactions, apparently were more common during low waters when there is an increased density of fish and so the biotic interactions are intensified. Stochastic associations, on the other hand, seemed to be more common during high water when species are more dispersed.
Keywords : Neotropical; Freshwater; Communities; Seasonality; Venezuela.