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Neotropical Ichthyology

Print version ISSN 1679-6225On-line version ISSN 1982-0224

Abstract

RODRIGUEZ-OLARTE, Douglas; AMARO, Ahyran; CORONEL, Jorge  and  TAPHORN B., Donald C.. Integrity of fluvial fish communities is subject to environmental gradients in mountain streams, Sierra de Aroa, north Caribbean coast, Venezuela. Neotrop. ichthyol. [online]. 2006, vol.4, n.3, pp.319-328. ISSN 1982-0224.  https://doi.org/10.1590/S1679-62252006000300003.

We examined physical habitat and fish assemblages in rivers of the Aroa Mountains (Venezuela) with different levels of environmental protection due to the creation of Yurubí National Park within the drainage. We developed an Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) and evaluated it using principal components analysis (PCA) and canonical correspondence analysis (CCA). Tributary rivers were divided into classes according to their origin (protected by the park) and physical characteristics of each, including substrate. Fishes were captured using standardized electrofishing. Fish communities showed greater species richness in heterogeneous habitat and protected rivers but overall abundance was higher in unprotected and impacted rivers. The IBI was sensitive to these differences and the scores were higher in protected rivers. The IBI detected degree of disturbance of fish communities without direct consideration of habitat parameters measured. The PCA revealed a gradient in substrate heterogeneity. Similarly, CCA revealed differences in fish assemblage composition along the environmental gradient and that varied with protection status of the river. The relationship between PCA and IBI scores was highly significant (r2 = 0.61, P < 0.0001). The PCA and CCA analysis moderately validated the structure and predictability of IBI; but it is still necessary to refine the model and to extend its application for more time and over a wider area.

Keywords : Index of Biotic Integrity; Habitat characterization; Multivariate analysis; National Park.

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