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Neotropical Ichthyology

Print version ISSN 1679-6225On-line version ISSN 1982-0224

Abstract

LIMA, Ana Carolina et al. Impact of ecotourism on the fish fauna of Bonito region (Mato Grosso do Sul State, Brazil): ecological, behavioural and physiological measures. Neotrop. ichthyol. [online]. 2014, vol.12, n.1, pp.133-143. ISSN 1679-6225.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1679-62252014000100014.

Bonito, in Mato Grosso do Sul State, is an important destination for ecotourism in Brazil and the main challenge of sustainable ecotourism here has been to accommodate and adjust the increase of tourism without compromising the ecological integrity of the local ecosystems. In this study we aimed to assess the environmental impact of ecotourism on the fish fauna of Sucuri River in Bonito by integrating ecological, behaviour and physiological criteria and using the fish species Crenicichla lepidota and Moenkhausia bonita as indicators. Two distinct sites were defined to collect data: (1) affected daily by ecotourism (Tourism) and (2) undisturbed (No Tourism). The "stationary point count" method was performed to assess variations in ecological parameters and "ad libitum" and focal animal methods were used to collect behaviour data. The cortisol response of M. bonita to a stress protocol was measured from holding-water. Results showed a significantly increase in species richness, density and diversity at the Tourism site. Nevertheless, behaviour patterns indicated a higher stress at the Tourism site for both species as well higher cortisol levels for M. bonita. In opposition to the ecological measures, the behaviour and physiological ones may be interpreted as an early sign of negative impact caused by ecotourism, prior to changes at community level.

Keywords : Behaviour; Cortisol; Crenicichla lepidota; Moenkhausia bonita; Stress response.

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