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The role of salinity in structuring the fish assemblages in a tropical estuary

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The present study describes the seasonal changes of the fish species composition in three areas of the main channel of the Caeté River estuary, Brazil. The fish faunas of each habitat differed in density, biomass and species composition. Mean fish density and biomass for the Caeté River estuary channel was 0·25 individuals m−2 and 0·9 g m−2 respectively. Analysis of catch data showed that the number of species, total density and total biomass differed significantly between areas and seasons. For the most important species, the mean density of Cathorops spixii, Aspredinichthys filamentosus, Aspredo sp. 2, Pimelodus blochii, Pseudauchnipterus nodosus and Macrodon ancylodon, differed significantly between seasons while the mean density of Stellifer rastrifer, Stellifer microps, Aspredo aspredo, Aspredo sp. 1 and Cynoscion acoupa did not. The mean biomass of these species, with exception of S. microps and Aspredo sp. 1, also differed significantly between seasons. In the Caeté estuary seasonal salinity fluctuations appeared to be the main factor that structured the fish assemblage in the entire estuarine system. At least 85% of the species captured by the artisanal and subsistence fisheries in the Bragantine region required estuarine conditions to complete their life cycle.

Keywords: Caeté River estuary; east Amazon; estuarine fish assemblages; estuary; macro tide region; tropical Brazil

Document Type: Regular Paper


Affiliations: 1: Laboratory of Ecology and Management of Estuarine and Coastal Ecosystem, Departamento de Oceanografia – UFPE, Cidade Universitária 50740-550 Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil, 2: Center for Tropical Marine Ecology, Fahrenheitstr. 6, D-28359 Bremen, Germany and 3: Bundesforschungsanstalt für Fischerei, Palmaille 9, 22767 Hamburg, Germany

Publication date: January 1, 2005


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