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Changes of taxonomic and trophic structure of fish assemblages along an environmental gradient in the Upper Beni watershed (Bolivia)

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The distribution and the diet of 28 fish species were evaluated, during the dry season, in 12 streams of the Upper Beni watershed (Amazon basin, Bolivia). The 12 streams were of similar size (stream width and water depth) but situated on a gradient of altitude in the Andean and sub‐Andean areas. The environmental conditions in the stream changed in relation to the altitude. As altitude decreased, slope and water velocity also decreased, while temperature, conductivity, pH and the proportion of pools increased. Although the diets of the species were mainly based on two aquatic autochthonous food resources, invertebrates and sediment, species were classified into five trophic guilds: detritivores, algivores, piscivores, invertivores‐omnivores and aquatic specialist invertivores. In all streams invertivores dominated or co‐dominated with detritivores. The trophic structure of the assemblages, however, changed in relation to the environmental gradient. The fish species richness increased and the trophic composition became more diverse at lower altitudes, when slope decreased and temperature increased. At the same time, the relative number of invertivore species decreased, whereas the relative number of detritivore, algivore and piscivore species increased. Decreasing altitude appeared to play a role similar to increasing stream size along the longitudinal gradient. This could be explained by geomorphological and temperature variations that may generate environmental conditions favourable to an increase of productivity.
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Keywords: Amazonian Andes; altitude; fish diet; guilds; slope; temperature

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: 1: Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD), Universidad Mayor de San Simón, Unidad de Limnología y Recursos Acuáticos, CP 2352 Cochabamba, Bolivia 2: Instituto de Ecología, Universidad Mayor de San Andres, CP 10077, La Paz, Bolivia and

Publication date: 2006-01-01

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