How are fish assemblages and feeding guilds organized in different tropical coastal systems? Comparisons among oceanic beaches, bays and coastal lagoons

  • Magda Fernandes de Andrade-Tubino
  • Marcia Cristina Costa Azevedo
  • Taynara Pontes Franco
  • Francisco Gerson AraújoEmail author
Primary Research Paper


Coastal ecosystems can vary considerably in their habitat characteristics and environmental conditions, resulting in divergent fish community structures. However, comparisons among coastal systems, such as oceanic beaches, bays and coastal lagoons, have not been thoroughly evaluated. We test the hypothesis that coastal systems that differ in wave exposure, habitat structure, salinity gradients and productivity show different assemblages and feeding guilds. The fish assemblages were significantly different among the systems. The bays had the largest number of species, whereas the lagoons had the highest numerical abundance and biomass. The planktivorous guild dominated in numerical abundance in all systems, whereas the opportunists dominated in biomass. The benthivores contributed greatly in abundance to the bays, the opportunists to the coastal lagoons, and the hyperbenthivores to the oceanic beaches. Water transparency and temperature explained a small portion of the variation in the community structure. This study highlighted the complex role that local factors have on the distribution of fishes at the species and trophic levels. These approaches were efficient to describe the structure and functioning of the assemblages in these different coastal systems. This should be viewed as essential for any comparisons of coastal systems, and in particular for conservation planning.


Fish communities Biodiversity Coastal zone Trophic guilds South-eastern Brazil 



We greatly appreciate the field and laboratory assistance of Gustavo Guedes, Tailan Moretti Mattos and Wagner Uehara. This study was partially supported by the Project Pesquisa Marinha e Pesqueira, a compensatory measure established by Conduct Adjustment Term responsibility of the Chevron Company, conducted by the Federal Public Ministry – MPF/RJ, with the implementation of the Fundo Brasileiro para a Biodiversidade – Funbio, Proc. 05/2016. CNPq – Conselho Nacional para o Desenvolvimento de Pesquisas (Proc. 304813/2015-0) and FAPERJ (Fundação Carlos Chagas de Amparo à Pesquisa do Rio de Janeiro (Proc. E-26/170.258/01) also support partially this study. This research was conducted under SISBIO Collection of Species Permit Number 10707 issued by ICMBio, Brazilian Environmental Agency.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

10750_2019_4101_MOESM1_ESM.doc (590 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 590 kb)


  1. Able, K. W., 2005. A re-examination of fish estuarine dependence: evidence for connectivity between estuarine and ocean habitats. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 64: 5–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Abrantes, K. G., R. Johnston, R. M. Connolly & M. Sheaves, 2015. Importance of mangrove carbon for aquatic food webs in wet-dry tropical estuaries. Estuaries and Coasts 38: 383–399.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Amorim, E., S. Ramos, M. Elliott, A. Franco & A. A. Bordalo, 2017. Habitat loss and gain: influence on habitat attractiveness for estuarine fish communities. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 197: 244–257.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Anderson, M. J., R. N. Gorley & K. R. Clarke, 2008. PERMANOVA + for PRIMER: Guide to Software and Statistical Methods. Plymouth: PRIMER-E. [available on internet at].
  5. Araújo, F. G., M. A. Silva, J. N. S. Santos & R. M. Vasconcellos, 2008. Habitat selection by anchovies (Clupeiformes, Engraulidae) in a tropical bay at Southeastern Brazil. Neotropical Ichthyology 6: 583–590.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Araújo, F. G., M. C. C. Azevedo & A. P. P. Guedes, 2016. Inter-decadal changes in fish communities of a tropical bay in southeastern Brazil. Regional Studies in Marine Science 3: 107–118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Araújo, F. G., S. M. Pinto, L. M. Neves & M. C. C. Azevedo, 2017. Inter-annual changes in fish communities of a tropical bay in southeastern Brazil: what can be inferred from anthropogenic activities? Marine Pollution Bulletin 114: 102–113.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  8. Azevedo, M. C. C., R. F. Gomes-Gonçalves, T. M. Mattos, W. Uehara, G. H. S. Guedes & F. G. Araújo, 2017. Taxonomic and functional distinctness of the fish assemblages in three coastal environments (bays, coastal lagoons and oceanic beaches) in Southeastern Brazil. Marine Environmental Research 129: 180–188.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  9. Baker, R. & M. Sheaves, 2006. Visual surveys reveal high densities of large piscivores in shallow estuarine nurseries. Marine Ecology Progress Series 323: 75–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Barletta, M., A. Barletta-Bergan & U. Saint-Paul, 1998. Description of the fisheries structure in the mangrove dominated region of Bragança (State of Pará, North Brazil). Ecotropica 4: 41–53.Google Scholar
  11. Bastos, A. C. & C. G. Silva, 2000. Morphodynamic characterization of the North coast of Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil. Revista Brasileira de Oceanografia 48(1): 32–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Beck, M. W., K. L. Heck Jr., K. W. Able, D. Childers, D. Eggleston, B. M. Gillanders, B. Halpern, C. Hays, K. Hoshino, T. Minello, R. Orth, P. Sheridan & M. Weinstein, 2001. The identification, conservation, and management of estuarine and marine nurseries for fish and invertebrates. Bioscience 51: 633–641.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Belo, W. C., G. T. M. Dias & M. S. Dias, 2002. The marine bottom of Ilha Grande Bay, RJ: the submarine relief and the sedimentation in the central channel. Revista Brasileira de Geofísica 20(1): 5–15. (in Portuguese).Google Scholar
  14. Bennett, B. A., 1989. The fish community of a moderately exposed beach on the southwestern cape coast of South Africa and an assessment of this habitat a nursery for juvenile fish. Estuarine Coastal and Shelf Science 28: 293–305.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Beyst, B., K. Hostens & J. Mees, 2001. Factors influencing fish and macrocrustacean communities in the surf zone of sandy beaches in Belgium: temporal variation. Journal of Sea Research 46: 281–294.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Blaber, S. J. M., D. T. Brewer & J. P. Salini, 1995. Fish communities and the nursery role of the shallow inshore waters of a tropical bay in the gulf of Carpentaria, Australia. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 40(2): 177–193.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Carvalho, B. M. & H. L. Spach, 2015. Habitat use by Atherinella brasiliensis (Quoy & Gaimard, 1825) in intertidal zones of a subtropical estuary, Brazil. Acta Scientiarum. Biological Sciences 37(2): 177–184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Clark, B. M., 1997. Variation in surf-zone fish community structure across a wave-exposure gradient. Estuarine Coastal and Shelf Science 44: 659–674.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Clarke, K. R. & R. N. Gorley, 2015. PRIMER v7: User Manual/Tutorial. PRIMER-E, Plymouth.Google Scholar
  20. Connell, J. H., 1980. Diversity and the coevolution of competitors, or the ghost of competition past. Oikos 35: 131–138.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Costa, M. R. & F. G. Araújo, 2003. Use of a tropical bay in southeastern Brazil by juvenile and subadult Micropogonias furnieri (Perciformes. Sciaenidae). ICES Journal of Marine Sciences. 60: 268–277.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Costa, K. G., T. R. Bezerra, M. C. Monteiro, M. Vallinoto, J. F. Berrêdo, L. C. C. Pereira & R. M. Costa, 2013. Tidal-induced changes in the zooplankton community of an Amazon estuary. Journal of Coastal Research 29: 756–765.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Cunha, C. L. N., P. C. C. Rosmam, A. P. Ferreira & T. C. N. Monteiro, 2006. Hydrodynamics and water quality models applied to Sepetiba Bay. Continental Shelf Research 26: 1940–1953.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Day, J. W. & A. Yáñez-Arancibia, 1985. Coastal lagoons and estuaries as an environment for nekton. In Yañez-Arancíbia, A. (ed), Fish Community Ecology in Estuaries and Coastal Lagoons: Towards an Ecosystem Integration. Univ. Nal. Aut. Mex. Press., Mexico City: 17–34.Google Scholar
  25. Defeo, O., A. Mclachlan, D. S. Schoeman, T. A. Schlacher, J. Dugan, A. Jones, M. Lastra & F. Scapini, 2009. Threats to sandy beach ecosystems: a review. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 81: 1–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Duck, R. W. & J. F. Da Silva, 2012. Coastal lagoons and their evolution: a hydromorphological perspective. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 110: 2–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Elliott, M. & A. K. Whitfield, 2011. Challenging paradigms in estuarine ecology and management. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 94: 306–314.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Elliott, M., A. K. Whitfield, I. C. Potter, S. J. M. Blaber, D. P. Cyrus, F. G. Nordlie & T. D. Harrison, 2007. The guild approach to categorizing estuarine fish assemblages: a global review. Fish and Fisheries 8(3): 241–268.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. FAO, 2011. Review of the state of world marine fisshery resources. FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Technical Paper No. 569. Rome, FAO. 334 pp.Google Scholar
  30. França, S., M. J. Costa & H. N. Cabral, 2009. Assessing habitat specific fish assemblages in estuaries along the Portuguese coast. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 83: 1–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Franco, A. C. S. & L. N. Santos, 2018. Habitat-dependent responses of tropical fish assemblages to environmental variables in a marine-estuarine transitional system. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 211: 110–117.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Franco, T. P., C. Q. Albuquerque, R. S. Santos, T. D. Saint-Pierre & F. G. Araújo, 2019a. Leave forever or return home? The case of the whitemouth croaker Micropogonias furnieri in coastal systems of southeastern Brazil indicated by otolith microchemistry. Marine Environmental Research 144: 28–35.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  33. Franco, T. P., L. N. Neves & F. G. Araújo, 2019b. Better with more or less salt? The association of fish assemblages in coastal lagoons with different salinity ranges. Hydrobiologia 828(1): 83–100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. García-Seoane, E., M. Dolbeth, C. L. Silva, A. Abreu & J. E. Rebelo, 2016. Changes in the fish assemblages of a coastal lagoon subjected to gradual salinity increases. Marine Environmental Research 122: 178–187.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  35. Gray, C. A., D. Rotherham & D. D. Johnson, 2011. Consistency of temporal and habitat-related differences among assemblages of fish in coastal lagoons. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 95: 401–414.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Guerra, J. V. & F. L. M. Soares, 2009. Circulation and flux of suspended particulate matter in Ilha Grande Bay, SE Brazil. Journal of Coastal Research 56: 1350–1354.Google Scholar
  37. Guidetti, P., 2000. Differences among fish assemblages associated with nearshore Posidonia oceanica seagrass beds, rocky–algal reefs and unvegetated sand habitats in the Adriatic Sea. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 50(4): 515–529.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Hagan, S. M. & K. W. Able, 2003. Seasonal changes of the pelagic fish assemblage in a temperate estuary. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 56: 15–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Henriques, S., P. Cardoso, I. Cardoso, M. Laborde, H. N. Cabral & R. P. Vasconcelos, 2017. Processes underpinning fish species composition patterns in estuarine ecosystems worldwide. Journal of Biogeography 44(3): 627–639.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Hildebrand, S. F., 1963. Family Engraulidae. Memoiries sears foundation for marine research 1: 152–249.Google Scholar
  41. James, N. C., P. D. Cowley & A. K. Whitfield, 2018. The marine fish assemblage of the East Kleinemonde Estuary over 20 years: declining abundance and nursery function? Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 214: 64–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Johnston, R., M. Sheaves & B. Molony, 2007. Are distributions of fishes in tropical estuaries influenced by turbidity over small spatial scales? Journal of Fish Biology 71: 657–671.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Kjerfve, B., C. A. F. Schettini, B. Knoppers, G. Lessa & H. O. Ferreira, 1996. Hydrology and salt balance in a large, hypersaline coastal lagoon: Lagoa de Araruama, Brazil. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 42: 701–725.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Knoppers, B., B. Kjerfve & J. P. Carmouze, 1991. Trophic state and water turnover time in six choked lagoons in Brazil. Biogeochemistry 14: 149–166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Lasiak, T. A., 1981. Nursery grounds of juvenile teleosts: evidence from the surf-zone of King’s Beach, Port Elizabeth. South African Journal of Marine Science 77: 388–390.Google Scholar
  46. Loureiro, S. N., J. A. Reis-Filho & T. Giarrizzo, 2016. Evidence for habitat-driven segregation of an estuarine fish assemblage. Journal of Fish Biology 89: 804–820.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  47. Macedo-Soares, P. H. M., A. C. Petry, V. F. Farjalla & E. P. Caramaschi, 2010. Hydrological connectivity in coastal inland systems: lessons from a Neotropical fish metacommunity. Ecology of Freshwater Fish 19: 7–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Mariani, S., 2001. Can spatial distribution of ichthyofauna describe marine influence on coastal lagoons? A central mediterranean case study. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 52(2): 261–267.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Mclachlan, A., 1980. The definition of sandy beaches in relation to exposure: a simple system. South African Journal of Marine Science 76: 137–138.Google Scholar
  50. Mouchet, M. A., M. D. M. Burns, A. M. Garcia, J. P. Vieira & D. Mouillot, 2013. Invariant scaling relationship between functional dissimilarity and co-occurrence in fish assemblages of the Patos Lagoon estuary (Brazil): environmental filtering consistently overshadows competitive exclusion. Oikos 122: 247–257.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Neves, L. M., H. H. Pereira, M. R. Costa & F. G. Araújo, 2006. The use of the Guaratiba mangrove, Sepetiba Bay, Rio de Janeiro, by the silverside Atherinella brasiliensis (Quoy & Gaimard) (Atheriniformes, Atherinopsidae). Revista Brasileira de Zoologia 23: 421–428. (in Portuguese).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Olds, A. D., E. Vargas-Fonseca, R. M. Connolly, B. L. Gilby, C. M. Huijbers, G. A. Hyndes, C. A. Layman, A. K. Whitfield & T. A. Schlacher, 2018. The ecology of fish in the surf zones of ocean beaches: a global review. Fish and Fisheries 19: 78–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Páez, Y. C., C. M. Aguilar-Betancourt, G. González-Sansón, F. Negrete-Rodríguez & M. Gray, 2018. Sediment granulometry and salinity drive spatial and seasonal variability of an estuarine demersal fish assemblage dominated by juvenile fish. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 212: 241–252.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Pauly, D., 1988. Fisheries research and the demersal fisheries of Southeast Asia. In Gulland, J. A. (ed), Fish Population Dynamics. Wiley, New York: 329–348.Google Scholar
  55. Pérez-Ruzafa, A., F. Pascalis, M. Ghezzo, J. I. Quispe-Becerra, R. Hernández-García, I. Muñoz, C. Vergara, I. M. Pérez-Ruzafa, G. Umgiesser & C. Marcos, 2019. Connectivity between coastal lagoons and sea: asymmetrical effects on assemblages’ and populations’ structure. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 216: 171–186.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Pessanha, A. L. M. & F. G. Araújo, 2003. Spatial, temporal and diel variations of fish assemblages at two sandy beaches in the Sepetiba Bay, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Estuarine Coastal and Shelf Science 57(5–6): 817–828.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Pichler, H. E., H. L. Spach, C. A. Gray, M. K. Broadhurst, R. Schwarz-Jr & J. F. Oliveira-Neto, 2015. Environmental influences on resident and transient fishes across shallow estuarine beaches and tidal flats in a Brazilian World Heritage area. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 164: 482–492.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Potter, I. C., B. M. Chuwen, S. D. Hoeksema & M. Elliott, 2010. The concept of an estuary: a definition that incorporates systems which can become closed to the ocean and hypersaline. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 87: 497–500.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Ribeiro, J., L. Bentes, R. Coelho, J. M. S. Goncalves, P. G. Lino, P. Monteiro & K. Erzini, 2006. Seasonal, tidal and diurnal changes in fish assemblages in the Ria Formosa lagoon (Portugal). Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 67: 461–474.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Robertis, A., C. H. Ryer, A. Veloza & R. D. Brodeur, 2003. Differential effects of turbidity on prey consumption of piscivorous and planktivorous fish. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 60: 1517–1526.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Rodrigues, F. L. & J. P. Vieira, 2013. Surf zone fish abundance and diversity at two sandy beaches separated by long rocky jetties. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 93(4): 867–875.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Romer, G. S., 1990. Surf zone fish community and species response to wave energy gradient. Journal of Fish Biology 36: 279–287.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Ross, S. W., 2003. The relative value of different estuarine nursery areas in North Carolina for transient juvenile marine fishes. Fishery Bulletin 101: 384–404.Google Scholar
  64. Schlacher, T. A. D., S. Schoeman, J. Dugan, M. Lastra, A. Jones, F. Scapini & A. Mclachlan, 2008. Sandy beach ecosystems: key features, sampling issues, management challenges and climate change impacts. Marine Ecology 29(Suppl. 1): 70–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Schloesser, R. W. & M. C. Fabrizio, 2018. Nursery habitat quality assessed by the condition of juvenile fishes: not all estuarine areas are equal. Estuaries and Coasts 42: 1–19.Google Scholar
  66. Sheaves, M., 2009. Consequences of ecological connectivity: the coastal ecosystem mosaic. Marine Ecology Progress Series 391: 107–115.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Sheaves, M., 2016. Simple processes drive unpredictable differences in estuarine fish assemblages: baselines for understanding site-specific ecological and anthropogenic impacts. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 170: 61–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Sheaves, M. & R. Johnston, 2009. Ecological drivers of spatial variability among fish fauna of 21 tropical Australian estuaries. Marine Ecology Progress Series 85: 245–260.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Signorini, S. R., 1980. A study of circulation in Bay of Ilha Grande and Bay of Sepetiba part II. An assessment to the tidally and wind driven circulation using a finite element numerical model. Boletim do Instituto Oceanografico 29: 57–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Silva, M. A., F. G. Araújo, M. C. C. Azevedo & J. N. S. Santos, 2004. The nursery function of sandy beaches in a Brazilian tropical bay for 0-group anchovies (Teleostei: Engraulidae): diel, seasonal and spatial patterns. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 84: 1229–1232.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Souza, J. S., L. N. Santos & A. F. G. N. Santos, 2018. Habitat features not water variables explain most of fish assemblages use of sandy beaches in a Brazilian eutrophic bay. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 211: 100–109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. StatSoft Inc., 2011. STATISTICA (data analysis software system), version 10. [available on internet at].
  73. Tittensor, D., C. Mora, W. Jetz, H. Lotze, D. Ricard, E. Vanden-Berghe & B. Worm, 2010. Global patterns and predictors of marine biodiversity across taxa. Nature 466: 1098–1101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Van der Veer, H. W., R. Dapper, P. A. Henderson, A. S. Jung, C. J. M. Philippart, J. I. J. Witte & A. F. Zuur, 2015. Changes over 50 years in fish fauna of a temperate coastal sea: degradation of trophic structure and nursery function. Estuarine Coastal and Shelf Science 155: 156–166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Vasconcelos, R. P., P. Reis-Santos, M. J. Costa & H. N. Cabral, 2011. Connectivity between estuaries and marine environment: integrating metrics to assess estuarine nursery function. Ecological Indicators 11: 1123–1133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Vasconcelos, R. P., S. Henriques, S. Franca, S. Pasquaud, I. Cardoso, M. Laborde & H. N. Cabral, 2015. Global patterns and predictors of fish species richness in estuaries. Journal of Animal. Ecology 84: 1331–1341.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  77. Velázquez-Velázquez, E., M. E. Vega-Cendejas & J. Navarro-Alberto, 2008. Spatial and temporal variation of fish assemblages in a coastal lagoon of the Biosphere Reserve La Encrucijada, Chiapas, Mexico. Revista de Biología Tropical 56: 557–574.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  78. Whitfield, A. K., 1999. Ichthyofaunal assemblages in estuaries: a South African case study. Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries 9: 151–186.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratório de Ecologia de PeixesUniversidade Federal Rural do Rio de JaneiroSeropédicaBrazil

Personalised recommendations