ABSTRACT: We assessed the influence of hydrological connectivity in structuring fish communities through seasonal samplings of environmental variables and fishes in a coastal lagoon and associated pools in the Restinga de Jurubatiba National Park, Brazil. Community structure attributes such as species richness, numerical density and biomass, Shannon–Wiener diversity index and evenness were compared between periods of the lowest and highest hydrological connectivity, while the environmental gradient and fish zonation were explored through ordination techniques. The greater hydrological connectivity established in the rainy season promoted the homogenisation of most environmental variables and fish species, which differed markedly from the arrangement observed in the dry season. Despite variation in fish species composition, community attributes showed non-significant differences between the dry and rainy seasons. The patterns of composition and numerical density in pools were strongly influenced by local factors, especially salinity, dissolved oxygen, total phosphorous concentration and water colour in the dry season, in addition to total nitrogen concentration and depth in the rainy season. Comparable to the role played by flood pulses in river-floodplain systems, the hydrological connectivity in these tropical coastal waterbodies seems to strongly influence fish community structure, and, therefore to determine regional biodiversity.
Ecology of Fresh Water Fish 03/2010; 19(1):7 -18. · 1.57 Impact Factor