Fish fauna from the basins of northern Espírito Santo, Brazil

Luisa Maria Sarmento-Soares, Ronaldo Fernando Martins-Pinheiro


The hydrographic basins of northern Espírito Santo comprises the systems of Itaúnas and São Mateus rivers. The present work is part of a series of studies on the fish fauna along Espírito Santo’s river basins. Forty-nine geo-referred points in rivers and rivulets of the area were evaluated, 20 in the Itaúnas basin and 28 in São Mateus basin. The environment and the taxonomic composition of the fish fauna were documented at every point, reporting a total of 83 species, including 47 freshwater species and 36 marine, belonging to 35 families and 11 orders. Among the freshwater fish species, the Siluriformes predominated, with 20 species, followed by the Characiformes, with 17 species. The Atlantic forest of northern Espírito Santo, known as “floresta de tabuleiros”, was originally composed of ombrophylous forest as well as swamps, coastal sand dunes, and mangroves. With the suppression of native forests, the region has suffered from desertification, and environmental conditions are similar to the northeastern semiarid region, where the run-off waters are dispersed or intermittent. The loss of environmental quality along river valleys is associated with the need to reestablish riverine aquatic conditions. Exotic species and risks of introductions need further studies in these areas. Rare or endangered species whose distributional range has diminished in response to environmental changes may function as biological indicators. Potentially new species are identified, and regional endemism and distribution patterns for freshwater fishes are discussed.



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