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Brazilian Archives of Biology and Technology

Print version ISSN 1516-8913On-line version ISSN 1678-4324

Braz. arch. biol. technol. vol.44 no.4 Curitiba Dec. 2001 

Occurrence of Larvae and Juveniles of Eucinostomus argenteus, Eucinostomus gula, Menticirrhus americanus, Menticirrhus littoralis, Umbrina coroides and Micropogonias furnieri at Pontal do Sul beach, Paraná


Rodrigo Santiago Godefroid*; César Santos; Marion Hofstaetter and Henry Louis Spach
Centro de Estudos do Mar – UFPR,. Av. Beira Mar, s/n. 83255-000. Pontal do Sul - PR, Brazil




Despite its importance, most ichthyoplankton studies in the South-Southeastern coast of Brazil, have been accomplished on the continental shelf. Regarding the beach environment, recognized as a nursery, little is known about the ichthyoplankton. We analyzed 288 samples collected with a 18 by 2 m seine net, 1 mm mesh and a conical plankton net, with a mesh of 300 mm and a 60 cm mouth. Eucinostomus argenteus comprised 78 % of the larvae and juveniles caught in the samples. The occurrence of gerreids was strongly concentrated in the summer, while the Menticirrhus littoralis, Menticirrhus americanus and Umbrina coroides were present during all seasons. M.littoralis was most abundant during spring, while M. americanus and U. coroides dominated during winter. For all species, the largest captures occurred during low tide. Environmental preferences are indicated in the principal component analysis, with the larvae and juveniles of E. argenteus and E. gula positively correlated with smaller waves and smaller morphodynamism, whereas M. americanus, U. coroides and M. furnieri seem to prefer periods with lower temperatures and larger morphodynamism.

Key words: Fish larvae, Surf Zone, Brazil




Faunistic surveys have revealed that the estuary is not the only and most important coastal ecosystem used as a nursery. Studies about beach ichthyofauna show the presence of several fish species, mainly in the juvenile stage, which indicate the importance of the beach environment as a nursery (Robertson and Lenanton, 1984; Lasiak, 1984 a,b).

In spite of the importance of beaches for the recruitment of fish, few studies deal with communities of fish in Brazilian beaches (Cunha, 1988; Paiva-Filho and Toscano., 1987; Monteiro-Neto, 1990; Graça Lopes et al., 1993), especially about the occurrence of fish larvae in this habitat (Matsuura and Nakatani, 1979). As a result, the present study has the objective of analyzing the occurrence of larvae and juveniles of two species of Gerreidae: Eucinostomus argenteus and Eucinostomus gula; and four species of Sciaenidae: Menticirrhus americanus, Menticirrhus littoralis, Umbrina coroides and Micropogonias furnieri in the surf zone, the latter being important commercially.



The study area is located in Pontal do Sul Beach, in the south corner of Paranaguá Bay (25° 16’ 34" S, 48° 17’ 42" W), southern Brazil. The beach, protected from the direct action of the waves by Mel and Galheta Islands, is of the reflective type with an inclination of 1.76º in the intertidal region and 2.74º in the subtidal region (Tavares, 1996).

Juveniles were obtained in the surf zone using an 18 by 2 m seine net, with a 1 mm mesh. Larvae were collected with a conical plankton net, with a mesh of 300 mm and a 60 cm mouth. Samples were taken biweehly from May 1993 to April 1994, at high tide and low tide of the syzygial and quarter tides. Hauling was parallel to the coast, in the direction of the current, at a depth below 1.70 m, along a previously defined 100 m strip of beach, for each net type. Simultaneously to the collection, salinity (with a portable refractometer), water temperature (mercury thermometer), wave height and period, were obtained. The climatic data, such as air temperature,wind direction and intensity were obtained at the meteorological station of the Centro de Estudos do Mar; and rainfall was obtained at a metereological station located in Guaraguaçu River, not very far from the studied area.. The morphodynamic state of the beach was evaluated using the ômega parameter calculation (Dean 1973) and surf-scaling (Guza and Imman 1975).

Plankton samples were conditioned in polyethylene flasks and preserved with 4 % buffered formalin solution, while the seine net samples were conditioned in plastic sacks. At the laboratory, fish from the seine net were frozen and later identified to species level. Fish larvae were selected from the total volume of the plankton sample under a stereoscopic microscope, identified, and later measured and classified according to their development stage (Ahlstrom and Ball 1954).

In an attempt to identify environmental preferences, a Principal Component Analysis was applied (Legendre and Legendre 1983). In this study, the seasons were defined in the following way: September to November = spring; December to February = summer; March to May = autumn and June to August = winter.



Mean monthly water temperature presented the typical seasonal pattern of the studied area, with smaller means from June to September and a progressive increase between spring and summer, followed by a decrease in autumn. Salinity did not present a seasonal trend, there being considerable differences between months in the same season, particularly during winter and spring. Larger mean rainfall occurred during summer and autumn, than winter and spring, with the exception of September. Rainfall varied from a minimum of 0 mm in November to a maximum of 352.4 mm in February; with a clear correlation between an increase in the rainfall and a decrease in the salinity. Considering the monthly occurrences, the North and Northwest winds prevailed from the end of autumn to the end of winter, and during spring a larger frequency of southwest, south and southeast winds was observed. The monthly average wave height was larger during winter and spring, than during summer and autumn. In the morphodynamical state of the beach environment, the values of the omega parameter varied between 0.02 and 0.05, characterizing the beach as reflective in all the studied period (Tab. 1).



A total of 5288 fish were captured, with E. argenteus dominating numerically the samples (78 %) and the other species presenting proportions of less than 8% of the total capture (Tab. 2). This dominance of larvae and juveniles of gerreids in beach hauls was observed previously in Anchieta Island, on the northern coast of the State of São Paulo (Matsuura and Nakatani, 1979). In the surf zone E. argenteus is the most common one (Saul and Cunningham, 1995), while E. gula seems to prefer the inner areas of estuaries (Ramirez-Villaroel, 1994).



For all the species, the largest captures occurred at low tide, with larger captures during nocturnal low tide. The exception for this pattern were M. americanus and U. coroides (Fig. 1). A greater number of post-flexion stage occurred in E. argenteus, E. gula, M. americanus and M. furnieri, with the prevalence of juveniles in M. littoralis and U. canosai (Figs. 2 to 7).















Specimens of E. argenteus were captured from summer to the end of autumn, with the largest occurrences of larvae in December and January (Fig. 2). The pattern of occurrence of larvae of E. gula was similar to that of E. argenteus, although there was a reduced abundance of juveniles in the area for the former (Fig. 3). In the surf zone, Matsuura and Nakatani (1979) found larvae of Eucinostomus sp. throughout the year, with peaks in the summer as well. The data from this study, like that of Matsuura and Nakatani (1979), seem to indicate a more intense spawning in the warmest period of the year.

The species M. americanus presented annual occurrence with a larger presence of post-flexion larvae in winter (Fig. 4). On the east coast of United States, the species breeds on the continental shelf (Hildebrand and Cable, 1930) during spring and summer (Powles and Stender, 1978), and the larvae are transported to the coast (Cowan and Shaw, 1988).

Sinque (1980) studied the sciaenid larvae in the estuary of Cananéia, on the southern coast of the State of São Paulo, Brazil and found larvae of M. americanus in the post-flexion stage from June to December, concluding that the spawning period of this species should occur between winter and spring. The results of the present study do not allow us to conclude about the spawning period of the species in the region, however, a winter spawning seems unlikely. Although M. littoralis is present on the beach during the whole year, it occurred in much smaller quantities than M. americanus, especially in the larval stage (Fig. 5). This smaller presence in the area suggestes the preference of the species for exposed beaches (McMichael and Ross, 1987) and that the juveniles rarely enter into the estuarine area (Hildebrand and Cable, 1930).

Most of the specimens of M. furnieri captured are larvae in the post-flexion stage, more frequent during winter and spring (Fig. 6). As in this study, Flores-Coto and Perez-Argudin (1991), observed that this species reaches the entrance of the estuaries in an advanced development stage, which would enable the active migration of the larvae to the most internal areas. The presence of juvenile specimens of M. furnieri throughout the year was observed previously in the estuaries of Cananéia (Sinque, 1981) and Patos Lagoon (Weiss, 1981; Muelbert and Weiss, 1991). The periods with larger abundance of larvae of M. furnieri at Pontal do Sul beach, coincide with those observed for the species in the Cananéia estuary (Sinque, 1980). In a more southerly estuary than the studied area, highest mean density of larvae of M. furnieri was observed during the summer ( Weiss, 1981; Muelbert and Weiss, 1991).

Juveniles of U. coroides were present in the area throughout the year, with larger frequencies in winter and spring (Fig. 7). Only five larvae of this species were captured in the surf zone of Pontal do Sul beach. The occurrence of juveniles of U. coroides in a beach environment throughout the year and in larger quantities during winter has been observed previously (Matsuura and Nakatani, 1979).

In the Principal Component Analysis, component I, responsible for 25.08% of the variation in the data, is related to the wave height and period and with the morphodynamic state of the beach, opposing winter samples, with larger waves and a larger morphodynamism, to summer ones, with smaller waves and a smaller morphodynamism. Larvae and juveniles of E. argenteus and E. gula are positively correlated with the summer condition, and on the contrary, there is a low occurrence of these species in the winter. Component II, responsible for 16.49% of the variation in the data, is related to the wind, precipitation and water temperature, opposing summer samples with a smaller intensity of winds, a larger precipitation and a higher water temperature, to winter ones, with opposite conditions. Larvae and juveniles of M. americanus, U. coroides and M. furnieri are positively correlated with the winter condition, on the contrary there was a low occurrence of these species in the warmer periods of the year. The species M. littoralis is little influenced by environmental conditions and appeared in small amounts during all the seasons of the year (Fig. 8).





Apesar da importância, a maioria dos estudos de ictioplâncton na costa sul-sudeste do Brasil, foram realizados sobre a plataforma continental. No que se refere ao ambiente praial, reconhecido como área de criação, pouco se sabe sobre o ictioplâncton. Foram analisadas 288 amostras coletadas com uma rede tipo picaré com 18 x 2 m e malha de 1mm, e rede de plancton cônica, com malha de 300 mm e boca de 60 cm. A espécie E. argenteus totalizou 78 % das larvas e juvenis capturados. A ocorrência dos gerreideos foi fortemente concentrada no verão, enquanto que Menticirrhus littoralis, Menticirrhus americanus e Umbrina coroides estiveram presentes em todas as estações do ano. M. littoralis foi mais abundante na primavera, enquanto que M. americanus e U. coroides dominaram no inverno. Em todas as espécies as maiores capturas ocorreram na baixa-mar. Preferências ambientais foram indicadas na análise de componentes principais, com as larvas e juvenis de E. argenteus e E. gula positivamente correlacionados com menores ondas e menor morfodinamismo, enquanto que M. americanus, U. coroides e M. furnieri parecem preferir períodos com menores temperaturas e maior morfodinamismo.




We would like to thank the Centro de Estudos do Mar, Universidade Federal do Paraná, for financial support.



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Received: March 02, 2000;
Revised: March 15, 2000;
Accepted: February 15, 2001.



*Author for correspondence

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