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Analysis of fish assemblages in sectors along a salinity gradient based on species, families and functional groups

Here we test the effects of the east-west salinity gradient in the subtropical Paranaguá Bay Estuarine Complex (PEC) on the structure of shallow water fish fauna, determined according to taxonomic (families and species) and functional composition metrics. A total of 152 species were observed. The families with the largest number of species were the Sciaenidae, Carangidae, Haemulidae and Gobiidae. The most abundant species were Atherinella brasiliensis, Harengula clupeola, Anchoa januaria and Anchoa tricolor. Marine stragglers dominated in number of species, followed by marine migrants and estuarine species. Most species were zoobenthivores, followed by piscivores and zooplanktivores. Families and species more frequently associated with estuarine conditions dominated in the mesohaline sector, and those more frequently associated with marine conditions dominated in the euhaline sector. The fish assemblages along the estuarine salinity gradient were found to be better characterized by taxonomic metrics than by functional ones. This is most likely because individuals of all functional groups inhabit all salinity sectors, and thus these metrics are not useful for differentiating assemblages along salinity gradients. Our results differ from those of other studies in tropical and subtropical estuaries, which have emphasized the importance of functional groups in determining fish assemblages along salinity gradients.

Salinity; Ichthyofauna; Estuarine use; Trophic position; Paranaguá Estuarine Complex

Universidade de São Paulo, Instituto Oceanográfico Praça do Oceanográfico, 191 , 05508-120 Cidade Universitária, São Paulo - SP - Brasil, Tel.: (55 11) 3091-6501, Fax: (55 11) 3032-3092 - São Paulo - SP - Brazil