Composition and structure of reef fish communities in Paraíba State, north-eastern Brazil
The composition and trophic structure of reef fish communities in two natural and two artificial reefs along the coast of Paraíba State in north-eastern Brazil were investigated. A total of 114 species of fish belonging to 47 families were recorded during 120 stationary visual surveys, slightly less than half (46·55%) of which were recorded at all four surveyed localities. Most species are widely distributed on the western Atlantic coast, but several are endemic to Brazil. The greatest diversity and equitability indexes were recorded at the reefs of Sapatas and Cabeço dos Cangulos, whereas the greatest richness and abundance were found at the Queimado shipwreck. The Alvarenga shipwreck reef had the least richness, diversity and equitability. The four localities studied had very similar ichthyofaunas, especially in relation to species composition. The reefs along the Paraíba coast are considered priority conservation areas by the Brazilian Ministry of the Environment, and the information generated by this study will be useful for comparison with other reefs in the region and can be directly applied to programmes seeking to protect and manage these environments.
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