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The influence of environmental variables on the functional structure of headwater stream fish assemblages: a study of two tropical basins in Central Brazil

We investigated functional patterns of fish assemblages of two adjacent basins (Araguaia and Tocantins) to test whether their headwater stream fish assemblages are more functionally (dis)similar than expected by chance and whether these (dis)similarities are related to differences of environmental conditions between basins. We used an analysis of similarities (ANOSIM) on a functional dissimilarity matrix to test for (dis)similarities between fish assemblages of both basins. We performed RLQ and fourth-corner analyses to determine fish species trait-environment relationship. Our results revealed functional dissimilarities between fish assemblages of both basins and significant species trait-environment relationships, suggesting that environmental conditions are driving such dissimilarities. Inter-basin dissimilarities are mainly driven by altitudinal and water temperature gradients, whereas dissimilarities among streams within the basins are influenced by channel depth, turbidity and conductivity. These five environmental variables mostly affected six fish species traits (body mass, water column position, substrate preference, parental care, foraging locality and migration) in different manners. This study is an attempt to understand functional trends of fish assemblages in a tropical region that remains poorly known but severely threatened.

ANOSIM; Community ecology; Functional ecology; RLQ analysis; Tocantins-Araguaia river basin

Sociedade Brasileira de Ictiologia Neotropical Ichthyology, Núcleo de Pesquisas em Limnologia, Ictiologia e Aquicultura, Universidade Estadual de Maringá., Av. Colombo, 5790, 87020-900, Phone number: +55 44-3011-4632 - Maringá - PR - Brazil