Spatiotemporal Variation in Fish Assemblage Structure in Tropical Floodplain Creeks
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Biotic assemblages of aquatic floodplain systems have great potential to randomly reshuffle during annual flood periods, and have been described both as stochastically and deterministically assembled. However, only a limited number of studies have been conducted in relatively few habitat types. To evaluate large-bodied fish assemblage structure of floodplain creeks, we used experimental gill nets to sample fishes at sites spaced at even intervals within three creeks in consecutive dry seasons. A total of 60 species were collected, 41 of which were collected both years. The most frequently collected species were piscivores and algivores/detritivores. Multivariate analysis suggested non-random patterns of assemblage structure in both years. Correspondence analysis (CA) of the species abundance-by-site matrix for 2001 suggests species assemblages were most similar among sites within the same creek regardless of depth or longitudinal position. Discriminant function analysis (DFA) correctly predicted 100% of samples based on creek identity, and species ordination scores revealed creek-specific species subsets. In 2002, CA and DFA did not distinguish creeks based on species assemblages. Instead, we observed a significant positive relationship between assemblage composition and site depth and position along the creek longitudinal gradient. Assemblages were most similar among sites of comparable depth and longitudinal position, regardless of creek identity. Predators occurred almost exclusively at mouth and mid-reach sites. Flood duration prior to our 2002 sampling period was prolonged due to abnormally heavy rainfall in November and December 2001 (typically the falling-water period), and may account for the observed inter-annual variation in fish assemblage structure.
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