Studies that investigate the relationship patterns between environmental structure complexity and fish fauna provide crucial information to stream restoration efforts. In order to test the hypothesis that streams with more complex environmental structure sustain more diverse and functionally more complex fish communities we sampled fish fauna from Sorocaba River headwater stream reaches (SE - Brazil). Reaches represented two distinct treatments: (1) a simplified reach, characterized by unstable fine substrate, clay, deeper channel and higher water velocity and (2) structurally complex reaches, characterized by coarse substrate, with gravel, pebble, rock, stems and branches and leaves inside the channel, producing a diverse pattern of microhabitat, associated with sequences of pools, runs, and riffles. Both trophic structure and taxonomic composition varied significantly between treatments. Invertivorous trophic group exclusively occurred in structurally complex reaches, which also presented greater diversity and species richness. We suggest enhancing in-stream environmental structure that suffered simplification processes due to human impacts in order to reestablish fish communities and ecossistemic functioning.
Bioindicators; Environmental heterogeneity; Functional group