Community reassembly after river regulation: rapid loss of fish diversity and the emergence of a new state

  • Phamela Bernardes PerônicoEmail author
  • Carlos Sérgio Agostinho
  • Rodrigo Fernandes
  • Fernando Mayer Pelicice
Primary Research Paper


Hydroelectric expansion has affected the functioning of most tropical rivers in the world. However, community reassembly in Neotropical impoundments remains poorly understood, because long-term studies are incipient. In this context, we evaluated temporal changes in fish diversity before and after the construction of Peixe Angical Dam, Upper Tocantins River, Amazon Basin. Specifically, we investigated changes in taxonomic (richness, abundance and species composition) and functional diversity (trait richness and composition) over a period of a decade. Fish assemblages were sampled at five sites along the river, between 2004 and 2014 (before and after river regulation). As predicted, taxonomic and trait richness declined in the impoundment, and the composition shifted over the years, with increasing dissimilarity between sites. We also observed significant changes in species abundance and trait composition. However, changes were abrupt and a novel community state emerged after the fifth year of the impoundment. After this period, richness and abundance tended to stabilize at low levels, with different species/trait composition when compared to the pre-damming period. Our results indicate that major changes in community structure occurred during the first years of the impoundment, with relevant losses in taxonomic and functional diversity, along with a rapid change towards a new state.


Dam Environmental filters Functional traits Impoundment Neotropical 



We thank colleagues from the Núcleo de Estudos Ambientais (Universidade Federal do Tocantins) for their assistance in field and laboratory work (2004–2007 period), Biota for providing data (2011–2014 period), and Enerpeixe S.A. for financial funding. CNPq provided a scholarship for P.B.P. and a research grant for F.M.P. We thank Luis M. Bini (Editor) and anonymous reviewers for providing comments and corrections.

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Programa de Pós-Graduação em Ecologia de Ecótonos (current Biodiversidade Ecologia e Conservação)Universidade Federal do TocantinsPorto NacionalBrazil
  2. 2.Programa de Pós-Graduação em Recursos Naturais do CerradoUniversidade Estadual de GoiásAnápolisBrazil
  3. 3.Núcleo de Estudos AmbientaisUniversidade Federal de TocantinsPorto NacionalBrazil
  4. 4.Laboratório de Ecologia de Comunidades e PaisagensUniversidade Federal Rural do Semi-ÁridoMossoróBrazil

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