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JUNQUEIRA, Nara Tadini; LEAL, Cecília Gontijo; ALVES, Carlos Bernardo Mascarenhas and POMPEU, Paulo Santos. Morphological diversity of fish along the rio das Velhas, Minas Gerais, Brazil. Neotrop. ichthyol. [online]. 2012, vol.10, n.2, pp.417-424. Epub May 24, 2012. ISSN 1679-6225. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1679-62252012005000004.
The rio das Velhas, located in central Minas Gerais State (Brazil), is a major tributary of the rio São Francisco. Despite several anthropogenic pressures, this basin supports more than 115 fish species. The aim of this study was to compare the morphological space occupied by fish assemblages in four regions (headwaters, upper, middle, and lower course) along the channel of the rio das Velhas. We try to answer the following question: Is there a change in the morphological organization of the fish along the longitudinal gradient of the river? Individuals from 67 species, collected at several sites in the basin from 1999 to 2008, were measured for 11 morphological attributes related to swimming behavior and habitat use. Through the graphs, the first two dimensions of the PCA suggest that the morphological volume occupied by the headwaters region is smaller than the other sections, because of the low richness of the site. However, morphological hypervolumes of the four reaches analyzed by Euclidean distances were not statistically different. The results indicated that only the density of morphological types increases along the rio das Velhas, and there is no difference between the headwaters and upper courses. Therefore, in order to use functional groups related to the morphology of the species as tools to take measures for the conservation and revitalization of the rio das Velhas, it is necessary analyze the density of species within these groups, as well as their composition.
Keywords : Community ecology; Ichthyofauna; Interspecific variation; Morphometry; rio São Francisco.