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The distribution of fishes and patterns of biodiversity in the Caura River Basin, Bolivar State, Venezuela

The distribution of fishes and patterns of biodiversity in the Caura River Basin, Bolivar State, Venezuela

RAP Bulletin of Biological Assessment 28: 86-96, 184-194

We test null hypotheses concerning random species distributions with respect to subregionsand macrohabitats within the Caura River Basin with data from 97 species of benthic invertebrates,399 species of riparian plants and 278 species of freshwater fishes. The analysis ofthe eight subregions split evenly above and below the falls indicated that invertebrates wererandomly distributed with respect to subregion. Fishes and plants were not random, and thesubregional effect in plants was more strongly patterned than that of fishes. Furthermore,fishes were less species rich in the Upper Caura than the Lower Caura. The converse wasobserved for plants while the invertebrates were almost equally rich. Non-random macrohabitateffects are found in each of the groups with certain commonalities. For example, speciesof Odonata and Ephemeroptera are found in high oxygen, swift water and rapids habitatsand are associated with a large assemblage of fishes and dense stands of macrophytes, usuallyPodostemonaceae. Fish assemblages demonstrate smooth transitions along several macrohabitatgradients (e.g., sand to mud bottoms and shores). At least six macrohabitats are necessaryto preserve 82% of the species of fishes.

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