, Volume 627, Issue 1, pp 181–193 | Cite as

Population responses of two omnivorous fish species to impoundment of a Brazilian tropical river

  • Míriam P. AlbrechtEmail author
  • Érica P. Caramaschi
  • Michael H. Horn
Primary research paper


Brycon gouldingi and B. falcatus were the most abundant and widespread of five species of the genus captured in a sampling study encompassing 5 years (1995–2000) in the upper Rio Tocantins, where the river was impounded by the Serra da Mesa hydroelectric dam. Given that impoundments constitute a disturbance to which species will show demographic and biological responses, we assessed such responses of these two omnivorous fishes, whose genus is regarded as vulnerable to impoundments. Both species increased greatly in numbers during the initial reservoir filling period. Brycon gouldingi had higher abundance values than B. falcatus in all sampling months, except in the pre-impoundment period. Both species showed a significant weight increment relative to body length during the time they remained in the reservoir. No reproductive individuals of B. gouldingi were recorded in the study area, but those few of Brycon falcatus were found in both wet and dry seasons, suggesting a more opportunistic strategy of reproduction. Both species were omnivorous and overlapped broadly in diet. The proportions of dietary items, however, varied in relation to fish size class and water dynamics (lotic versus lentic sites). Terrestrial arthropods composed a larger proportion of the diet of smaller-sized individuals and those from lentic sites, whereas seeds and fruits contributed more to the diet of both larger-sized individuals and those from lotic environments. Except for fish and aquatic heteropterans, which were consumed mainly in the reservoir, all other food items were allochthonous, indicating the dependence of these two species of Brycon on the terrestrial environment. The two species responded similarly to the alterations imposed by the impoundment of the upper Tocantins, although reproduction/recruitment pattern was slightly different between species. As observed in other regions of Brazil, impoundments and deforestation appear to produce negative cumulative effects on species of Brycon. These impacts call for greater efforts to conserve and manage members of this diverse and widespread genus.


Population structure Diet Brycon Characiformes Reservoir Tocantins–Araguaia Basin 



Funding for this study was obtained by the contract UFRJ/BIORIO/Furnas—Serra da Mesa Energia S.A. and later by UFRJ/FECD/Furnas—CPFL. The first author thanks CNPq (SWE no. 200277/2004-9 and PDJ no. 151148/2005-8) and FAPERJ for the grants. EPC thanks CNPq for the PQ stipend (proc. no. 309506/2003-4). MHH thanks CSUF for the mini-grant that supported his participation. The authors are also grateful to other participants of the project for obtaining fish and field data, to V. P. Pillar for providing the MULTIV software for the multivariate analyses, and to F. C. T. Lima for fruitful discussions and a critical review of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Míriam P. Albrecht
    • 1
    Email author
  • Érica P. Caramaschi
    • 1
  • Michael H. Horn
    • 2
  1. 1.Departamento de Ecologia, IB, CCSUniversidade Federal do Rio de JaneiroRio de JaneiroBrazil
  2. 2.Department of Biological ScienceCalifornia State UniversityFullertonUSA

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