Longitudinal habitat disruption in Neotropical streams: fish assemblages under the influence of culverts

This study assessed differences in fish assemblages existing upstream and downstream two types of culverts, one on each of two different Neotropical streams. We analyzed the composition and structure of the ichthyofauna and tested for spatial patterns. Fish sampling was carried out monthly between November 2009 and October 2010 using different fishing gears. We collected 2,220 fish of 33 species; 901 in stretches of the Lopeí stream - circular culvert and 1,310 in stretches of the Pindorama stream - box culvert. Fish abundance was similar in upstream and downstream stretches of the circular culvert, whereas it was slightly higher in the upstream than downstream stretch for the box culvert. Characiformes predominated in the upstream stretch of both culverts. On the other hand, Siluriformes was abundant in the downstream stretch of the circular culvert, with similar abundance in the stretches of the box culvert. Species richness and diversity (Shannon-Weiner Index) were higher in the downstream stretch of the circular culvert, but they were similar in both stretches of the box culvert. The most abundant species were Astyanax altiparanae, A. paranae, A. fasciatus, Ancistrus sp., and Hypostomus sp. The last two species were more abundant in the downstream stretch of the circular culvert, and similar in stretches of the box culvert. Our study indicated variations in the species abundance, richness, and diversity between upstream and downstream stretches in particular of the circular culvert in the Lopeí stream, suggesting that fish movements are restrained more intensively in this culvert, especially for Siluriformes. The drop in the circular culvert outlet probably created passage barriers especially for those fish that has no ability to jump, where downstream erosion could lead to culvert perching. Studies on appropriate road crossing design or installation are fundamental whereas improvements in these structures can restore the connectivity of fish populations and communities in streams.

Fish passage; Fish population; Habitat fragmentation; Road crossings


Sociedade Brasileira de Ictiologia Universidade Estadual de Maringá, Núcleo de Pesquisas em Limnologia, Ictiologia e Aquicultura/Coleção Ictiologia, Av. Colombo, 5790, 87020-900 Maringá, PR, Brasil, Tel.: (55 44)3011 4632 - Maringá - PR - Brazil
E-mail: neoichth@nupelia.uem.br