Benthic Estuarine Assemblages of the Eastern Marine Brazilian Ecoregion (EME)
The Eastern Brazil Marine Ecoregion includes over 50 estuaries along roughly 1200 km of coastline with latitudinal changes in mean rainfall and average yearly atmospheric temperatures. Estuarine ecosystems within this ecoregion have been relatively well studied with respect to the impacts from human pollution and the benthic biodiversity in mangrove forests, estuarine channels, and tidal flats. Benthic estuarine assemblages exhibit typical spatial changes with salinity gradients, with higher diversity towards euhaline sectors. Macrofaunal abundance and biomass are typically higher within mud and organic-rich sediments along tidal flats, although spatial patterns often differ within sectors (euhaline to oligohaline) and between estuaries in the ecoregion. The largest coastal bays and estuaries of the Eastern Marine Ecoregion are impacted by variable levels of sewage and industrial discharge and mangrove forest removal. Although the effects of these impacts likely result in changes in the amount or quality of water supply, decrease of fish stocks, and transformations of food webs, there is limited understanding of the potential loss of estuarine services. Climate change effects including higher mean atmospheric temperatures and lower rainfall are predicted to significantly impact estuarine benthic assemblages in the Eastern ecoregion and localized effects of higher salinity are already in place at some areas. Further studies need to understand accurately what are the most important estuarine functions and services in order to evaluate how different local (biological invasion, habitat destruction, pollution) and global (climate change) impacts will affect these systems. Concomitantly, estuarine areas for conservation must be identified, implemented and managed in Eastern Brazil Marine Ecoregion.
KeywordsEastern Brazil Benthic ecology Impacts Mangroves Estuaries
AFB was supported by FAPES (52638090/2011; 61847429/2013) and CNPq (470542/2013-6; 441243/2016-9) research grants. FB was supported by CNPq fellowship (239978/2012-9; 306332/2014-0), Projeto BTS, PRONEX and Baías da Baía (PET 0035/2012). LEOG, LBB, LR, and AD were supported by graduate scholarships from FAPESB/FAPES/CAPES/CNPq. This is also a PELD-HCES contribution #003.
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