Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 57, Issue 3, pp 235–250 | Cite as

Fish Communities in Central Amazonian White- and Blackwater Floodplains

  • Ulrich Saint-Paul
  • Jansen Zuanon
  • Marle A. Villacorta Correa
  • Marcelo García
  • Nidia Noemi Fabré
  • Uta Berger
  • Wolfgang J. Junk


In Amazonian floodplains, the flood cycle of the river is becoming the dominant seasonal factor, and fish communities are found to fluctuate greatly over the year. During inundation, fish migrate into floodplain forests to feed on fruits and seeds, in an area more than 300 000 km2 in size. To document patterns of species diversity, distribution, abundance and temporal dynamics and in order to describe the ecological importance of the inundated forest, floodplain fish were captured using variously sized gill nets in white and black water areas inside and outside the floodplain forests during low, rising, high and falling water level in 1990 and 1991. Dominance varies to some extent in white water between floodplain forest (0.06) and open water (0.11) while it is unchanged in black water (0.04). Black water fish communities were more diverse. Most abundant among white water fish were Liposarcus pardalis, Pygocentrus nattereri, and Pellona flavipinnis, for example, or Plagioscion squamsissimus, Serrasalmus rhombeus, and Serrasalmus manueli in black water. Among the most abundant white water fish, Colossoma macropomum, Mylossoma duriventre and Osteoglossum bicirrhosum occurred almost exclusively in inundated forests. Of the black water species there were a large number of species which were captured only in inundated forest, such as Geophagus cf. altifrons, Hoplias malabaricus, Osteoglossum bicirrhosum and Uaru amphiacanthoides. Catches varied with sample site, water level and direction of water level change. The average CPUE in white and black water was 190 and 41 g fish m−2 and day, respectively, with maximum yields at low water and minimum yields at high water. Comparing rising and falling water levels, a significantly higher quantity of fishes was captured at falling water level. In black water, fish catches from the floodplain forest exceeded the open water catch by 183 to 550%, depending on season. Differences in respect of white water are smaller (106–281%). Fish communities in the area under investigation seem to be stochastically assembled, with significant differences between white and black water only. Many fishes move into the floodplain forest not only to feed but probably also for other reasons – to seek shelter, for example.

Amazonia fisheries abundance floodplain igapó várzea inundated forest community structure 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References cited

  1. Araujo-Lima, C.A.R.M., M. Goulding, B. Forsberg, R.Victoria & L. Martinelli. 1998. The economic value of the Amazonian flooded forest from a fisheries perspective. Verh. internat. Verein. Limnol. 26: 2177-2179.Google Scholar
  2. Barthem, R.B. 1981. Considerações sobre a pesca experimental com redes de espera em lagos da Amazônia Central. M.Sc. Thesis, INPA/FUA, Manaus. 84 pp.Google Scholar
  3. Barthem, R.B. 1987. Use de redes de espera no estudo de ritmos circadianos de algumas espécies de peixes nos lagos da varzea do Rio Solimões. Rev. Bras. Zoologia 3: 409-322.Google Scholar
  4. Bayley, P.B. 1982. Central Amazon fish populations: biomass, productions and some dynamic characteristics. Ph.D. Thesis, Dalhousie University, Halifax. 330 pp.Google Scholar
  5. Bayley, P.B. 1989. Aquatic environments in the Amazon Basin, with an analysis of carbon sources, fish production and yield. Can. Spec. Publ. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 106: 309-408.Google Scholar
  6. Bonetto, A., E. Cordiviola de Yuan & C. Pignalberi. 1970a. Nuevos datos sobre poblaciones de peces en ambientes leníticos permanentes del Paraná medio. Physis 30: 141-154.Google Scholar
  7. Bonetto, A., E. Cordiviola de Yuan, C. Pignalberi & O. Oliveros. 1970b. Nuevos aportes al conocimiento de las poblaciones ícticas en cuencas temporarias del valle de inundacíon del Paraná medio. Acta Zoológica Lilloana 27: 135-153.Google Scholar
  8. Clarke, K.R. & R.M. Warwick. 1994. Changes in marine communities: an approach to statistical analysis and interpretation. Plymouth Marine Laboratory, Natural Research Council, UK. 144 pp.Google Scholar
  9. Colonnello, G. 1991. Phenological observations and forest litter production in a floodplain forest (várzea) of the Orinoco River, Venezuela. Interciência 16: 202-208.Google Scholar
  10. Cordiviola de Yuan, E. 1980. Campaña limnológica 'Keratella I' en el Río Paraná medio: taxocenos de peces de ambientes leníticos. Ecología (Argentina) 4: 103-113.Google Scholar
  11. Engelmann, H.D. 1978. Zur Dominanzklassifizierung von Bodenarthropoden. Pedobiologia 18: 378-380.Google Scholar
  12. Furch, K. & W.J. Junk. 1997. Physicochemical conditions in the floodplain. pp. 69-108. In: W.J. Junk (ed.) The Central Amazonian Floodplain, Floodplain: Ecology of a Pulsing System, Ecological Studies Vol. 126, Springer, Berlin.Google Scholar
  13. Gottsberger, G. 1978. Seed dispersal by fish in the inundated regions of Humaitá, Amazonia. Biotropica 10: 170-183.Google Scholar
  14. Goulding, M. 1980. The fishes and the forest: exploration in Amazonian natural history. University of California Press, Berkeley. 280 pp.Google Scholar
  15. Goulding, M. 1983. The role of fishes in seed dispersal and plant distribution in Amazonian floodplain ecosystems. Sonderb. naturwiss. Ver. Hamburg 7: 271-283.Google Scholar
  16. Goulding, M. 1985. Forest fishes of the Amazon. pp. 267-276. In: G.T. Prance & T.E. Lovejoy (ed.) Key Environments Amazonia, Pergamon Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
  17. Goulding, M. 1989. The floodplain forest. BBC Books, London. 159 pp.Google Scholar
  18. Goulding, M., M.L. Carvalho & E.G. Ferreira. 1988. Rio Negro: rich life in poor water. SPB Academic Publishing bv, The Hague. 200 pp.Google Scholar
  19. Goulding, M., N.J.H. Smith & D.J. Maghar. 1996. Floods of fortune. Ecology and economy along the Amazon. Columbia University Press, New York. 193 pp.Google Scholar
  20. Honda, E.M.S. 1974. Contribuição ao conhecimento da biologia de peixes do Amazonas, II-Alimentação do tambaqui, Colossoma bidens. Acta Amazônica 4: 47-53.Google Scholar
  21. Junk,W.J., P.B. Bayley & R.E. Sparks. 1989. The flood pulse concept in river floodplain systems. pp. 110-127. In: D.P. Dodge (ed.) Proceedings of the International Large River Symposium, Can. Spec. Publ. Fish. Aqua. Sci. 106.Google Scholar
  22. Junk, W.J. & M.T.F. Piedade. 1997. Plant life in the floodplains with special reference to herbaceous plants. pp. 147-185. In: W.J. Junk (ed.) The Central Amazon Floodplain, Ecology of a Pulsing System, Ecological Studies 126, Springer, Berlin.Google Scholar
  23. Junk, W.J., M.Q.M. Soares & U. Saint-Paul 1997. The fishes. pp. 385-408. In: W.J. Junk (ed.) The Central Amazon Floodplain, Ecology of a Pulsing System, Ecological Studies 126, Springer, Berlin.Google Scholar
  24. Karenge, L.P. & J. Kolding. 1994. On the relationship between hydrology and fisheries in Lake Kariba, Central Africa. Fish. Res. (in press).Google Scholar
  25. Kubitski, K. 1985. Ichthyochory in Gnetum venosum. An. Acad. Brasil. Cienc. 57: 513-516.Google Scholar
  26. Kubitski. K. 1989. The ecogeographical differentation of Amazonian floodplain forests. Plant Systematics and Evolution 162: 285-304.Google Scholar
  27. Kubitski, K. & A. Ziburski. 1993. Seed dispersal in flood plain forests of Amazonia. Biotropica 26: 30-43.Google Scholar
  28. Legendre, L. & P. Legendre. 1998. Numerical ecology. Elsevier, New York. 870 pp.Google Scholar
  29. Lowe-McConnell, R.H. 1975. Fish communities in tropical freshwaters. Longman, London. 337 pp.Google Scholar
  30. Lowe-McConnell, R.H. 1979. Ecological aspects of seasonality in fishes of tropical waters. Symp. Zool. Soc. Lond. 44: 219-241.Google Scholar
  31. Lowe-McConnell, R.H. 1987. Ecological studies in tropical fish communities. Cambridge Tropical Biology Series, University Press, Cambridge. 382 pp.Google Scholar
  32. Merona, B. de. 1990. Fish communities and fishing in a floodplain lake of central Amazonia. Bull. Ecol. 21: 71-76.Google Scholar
  33. Merona, B. de & M.M. Bittencourt. 1993. Les peuplements de poissons du 'Lago do Rei', un lac d'inondation d'Amazonie central: description générale. Amazoniana 12: 415-441.Google Scholar
  34. Merona, B. de & Gascuel. 1993. The effects of flood regime and fishing effort on the overall abundance of an exploited fish community in the Amazon floodplain. Aquatic Living Resources 6: 97-108.Google Scholar
  35. Mertes, L.A.K., D.L. Daniel, J.M. Melack, B. Nelson, L.A. Martinelli & B.R. Forsberg. 1995. Spatial patterns of hydrology, geomorphology, and vegetation on the floodplain on the Amazon River in Brazil from a remote sensing perspective. Geomorphology, Terrestrial and Freshwater Systems 13: 215-232.Google Scholar
  36. Meschkat, A. 1958. As malhadeiras de pesca. SPEVEA, Belém. 20 pp.Google Scholar
  37. Novoa, D.F. 1989. The multispecies fisheries of the Orinoco River, development, present status, and management strategies. pp. 422-428. In: D.P. Dodge (ed.) Proceedings of the International Large River Symposium, Can. Spec. Publ. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 106.Google Scholar
  38. Petrere Jr., M. 1978. Pesca e esforço de pesca no Estado do Amazonas. II. Locais de pesca, aparelhos de captura e estatísticas de desembarque. Acta Amazonica 8 (Supl. 2): 1-54.Google Scholar
  39. Piedade, M.T.F. 1984. Ecologia e biologia reprodutiva de Astrocaryztm jauari Mart. (Palmae) como exemplo de população adaptada às áreas inundáveis do Rio Negro (igapós). M.Sc. Thesis, INPA/UFPA, Manaus. 141 pp.Google Scholar
  40. Pielou, E.C. 1969. An introduction to mathematical ecology. Wiley, New York. 286 pp.Google Scholar
  41. Pires, J.M. 1972. Tipos de vegetação da Amazônia. Bol. Mus. Paraense E. Goeldi 20: 179-202.Google Scholar
  42. Quíros, R. & S. Cuch. 1989. The fisheries and limnology of the lower Plata Basin. pp. 429-443. In: D.P. Dodge (ed.) Proceedings of the International Large River Symposium, Can. Spec. Publ. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 106.Google Scholar
  43. Rodríguez, M.A. & W.M. Lewis, Jr. 1990. Diversity and species composition of fish communities of Orinoco floodplain lakes. National Geographic Research 6: 319-328.Google Scholar
  44. Rodríguez, M.A. & W.M. Lewis, Jr. 1994. Regulation and stability in fish assemblages of neotropical floodplain lakes. Oecologia 99: 166-180.Google Scholar
  45. Roubach, R. & U. Saint-Paul. 1994. Use of fruits and seeds from Amazonian floodplain forests in feeding trials with Colossoma macropomum (Cuvier, 1818) (Pisces, Characidae). J. Appl. Ichthyol. 10: 134-140.Google Scholar
  46. Saint-Paul, U. 1982. Ökologische und physiologische Untersuchungen an dem Amazonasfisch Tambaqui (Colossoma macropomum) im Hinblick auf seine Eignung für die tropische Fischzucht. Ph.D. Thesis, University of Hamburg, Hamburg. 220 pp.Google Scholar
  47. Saint-Paul, U. 1996. Comparison of seasonal and diurnal vertical oxygen distribution in Central Amazonian white and black water lake. Ecotropica 2: 73-77.Google Scholar
  48. Simpson, E.H. 1949. Measurement of diversity. Nature 163: 688.Google Scholar
  49. Sioli, H. 1950. Das Wasser im Amazonasgebiet. Forsch. Fortschr. 26: 274-280.Google Scholar
  50. Smith, N.J.H. 1979. A pesca no rio Amazonas. CNPq/INPA, Manaus. 119 pp.Google Scholar
  51. Soares, M.G.M., R.G. Almeida & W.J. Junk. 1986. Trophic status of the fish fauna in lago Camaleão, a macrophyte dominated floodplain lake in the middle Amazon. Amazoniana 9: 511-526.Google Scholar
  52. Sørensen, T. 1948. A method of establishing groups of equal amplitude in plant sociology based on similarity of species content. Det. Kong. Danske. Vidensk. Selsk. Biol. Skr. (Copenhagen) 5: 219-246.Google Scholar
  53. Tabachnick, B.G. & L.S. Fidell. 1989. Using multivariate statistics. Harper Collins Publishers, New York. 746 pp.Google Scholar
  54. Waldhoff, D., U. Saint-Paul & B. Furch. 1996. Value of fruits and seeds from the floodplain forests of central Amazonia as food source for fish. Ecotropica 2: 143-156.Google Scholar
  55. Welcomme, R.L. 1979. Fisheries ecology of floodplain rivers. Longman, London. 317 pp.Google Scholar
  56. Welcomme, R.L. & D. Hagborn. 1977. Towards a model of a floodplain fish population and its fishery. Env. Biol. Fish. 2: 7-24.Google Scholar
  57. Whitehead, P.J.P. 1959. The river fishery of Kenya, Part 2: The lower Athi (Sabaki) River. East Afr. Agric. J. 24: 214.Google Scholar
  58. Ziburski, A. 1990. Ausbreitungs-und Reproduktionsbiologie einiger Baumarten der amazoniaschen Ñberschwemmungswälder. Ph.D. Thesis, University of Hamburg, Hamburg. 112 pp.Google Scholar
  59. Ziburski, A. 1991. Dissimination, Keimung und Etablierung einiger Baumarten der Ñberschwemmungswälder Amazoniens. Tropische und Subtropische Pflanzenwelt 77: 1-96.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ulrich Saint-Paul
    • 1
  • Jansen Zuanon
    • 2
  • Marle A. Villacorta Correa
    • 2
  • Marcelo García
    • 3
  • Nidia Noemi Fabré
    • 3
  • Uta Berger
    • 4
  • Wolfgang J. Junk
    • 5
  1. 1.Center for Tropical Marine Ecology (ZMT)BremenGermany
  2. 2.Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazonia (INPA)Manaus/AmBrazil
  3. 3.Universidade do Amazonas (UFA), DB/ICBManaus/AmBrazil
  4. 4.Center for Tropical Marine Ecology (ZMT)BremenGermany
  5. 5.Max-Planck-Institut für LimnologiePlönGermany

Personalised recommendations