Spatial and temporal variability of larval fish assemblages in the central region of the Brazilian Exclusive Economic Zone (12–22°S)

Márcia Salustiano de Castro, Cristina de Oliveira Dias, and Ana Cristina Teixeira Bonecker

We evaluated spatial and temporal variations in larval fish assemblages occurring off the central coast of Brazil. Study material was collected during 3 oceanographic cruises (1999–2000) in the spring, winter, and autumn. Oblique hauls were sampled from 329 stations, and 88 families and 130 species were identified. The surveys recorded higher abundances of larval fish on the continental shelf during the winter, and diversity increased from coastal to oceanic waters. Furthermore, larval fish abundance showed a negative relationship with local depth in the 3 sampling periods, with the greatest abundances associated with shallower stations at the continental shelf. Myctophidae and Scaridae larvae showed the highest abundances in the oceanic region near the Abrolhos and Royal Charlotte Banks and on the Vitória Seamount in the Vitória-Trindade Ridge. The oceanic and seamount regions’ high salinity (spring) and temperature (winter) were the best predictors of diversity and equitability. This study improved the knowledge of larval fish assemblages and their distribution in a coast-ocean gradient at different times of the year. It may also contribute to future studies aimed at understanding the influence of environmental variables on these organisms and the connectivity between different environments.

Supplementary material