Preliminary analysis of the fish species of the Pacific Central American Mangrove of Zancudo, Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica

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The aim of the present paper is to provide first information on the mangrove fish community of the tropical fjord-like Golfo Dulce (GD), to study its importance for fish diversity and fisheries in the area and to give preliminary results on its spatial–temporal variation. Eighty-two species belonging to 30 families were identified. More than half of them belonged to the estuarine transient fish group and only 14 species were estuarine resident, highlighting the importance of the Zancudo mangrove as a transition area. The most diverse families were Sciaenidae, Carangidae and Haemulidae for both rainy and dry seasons. As much as 71% of the species captured were of first or second grade economic value and only 11% had no commercial value. Comparing our data with fisheries and scientific surveys inside and outside the gulf suggests the importance of the Zancudo mangrove for regional fisheries and fish diversity. Multidimensional scaling (MDS) indicated gradual changes in the fish community composition from the river mouth to the more internal sampling sites for rainy and dry seasons. Moreover, shifts in abundance and species composition between seasons were observed, mainly an increase in the differences between the boundaries and the central zones of the mangrove. These changes were attributed to the higher salinity differences between sites during the dry season forcing the occasional visitor fish downstream and freshwater fish taxa upstream. While the results contribute to initiatives for participative fisheries management in the region, further studies are needed to analyse the variations in detail.

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We are grateful to all the fishers of Zancudo and especially Juan C. Caballero and Ronald C. Soto for their great help for fishing the mangrove. We also thank Thomas Poirout and Grégoire Laugier for help with field work and William Bussing for fish identification. In addition we are grateful to Drs. Tony Robinet and Helena Molina U. for helpful discussions. This research was partially supported by a grant from the Walton Family Foundation administrated by “Friends of the Osa” of Puerto Jiménez, Costa Rica. Dr. Margarita Silva B. has been of great help in facilitating this funding.

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Correspondence to Pierre Feutry.

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Feutry, P., Hartmann, H.J., Casabonnet, H. et al. Preliminary analysis of the fish species of the Pacific Central American Mangrove of Zancudo, Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica. Wetlands Ecol Manage 18, 637–650 (2010) doi:10.1007/s11273-010-9183-1

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  • Tropical fjord-like
  • Mangrove
  • Fish diversity
  • Eastern Pacific
  • Participative sampling