Environmental filters predict the trait composition of fish communities in reservoir cascades
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Dam construction alters flow regimes and can change the composition of aquatic communities. Using data from three Brazilian hydrographic basins, we tested the hypothesis that reservoir cascades act as environmental filters for fish traits. This dataset included information on different environmental variables and fish traits (diet, migration, fecundation, parental care, position in the water column, and body size), and we used multivariate analysis (partial RLQ) to quantify the relationships between environmental variables, species abundance and traits. We found that the abundance of migratory species declined towards downstream reservoirs, which tend to be smaller and less turbid with a shorter water residence time than upstream reservoirs. We also found evidence of an association between reservoir age and the domination of fish communities by small-sized species with parental care, external fecundation, and benthic habits. Our findings suggest that particular fish traits are selected for across reservoir cascades.
KeywordsTrait–environment relationship Partial RLQ Impact of dams Strategies Hydrologic alteration Freshwater fish
We thank Taise Miranda Lopes for contributing to the manuscript and Eduardo Ribeiro da Cunha, Geovani Moresco, and Matheus Baumgartner for preparing the schematic design. We also thank Stéphane Dray for kindly assisting with the fourth-corner analysis and the reviewers whose comments improved the final version of this manuscript. We express our appreciation to the Hydroelectric Company of São Francisco (CHESF), the Apollonius Salles Foundation for Educational Development (FADURPE), and PRONEX-MCT/CNPq for financial support, and Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES) and Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq) for the graduate student fellowship. AAA, LCG, and LMB receive productivity grants from CNPq.
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