Physical, biological and human-induced effects on the reef fishes of Fernando de Noronha archipelago, Brazil

Paulo Roberto de Medeiros, Ana Maria Alves de Medeiros

Resumo


Vários fatores têm o potencial de influenciar a distribuição e a composição das comunidades de peixes recifais. Entre os mais importantes estão a rugosidade, a exposição às ondas, a cobertura do substrato e as atividades humanas. O presente estudo avaliou a influência desses fatores nos peixes recifais de áreas com um gradiente de restrição a atividades humanas no arquipélago Fernando de Noronha, nordeste do Brasil e determinou suas importâncias relativas para a ecologia de peixes recifais. A rugosidade não influenciou a riqueza de peixes, mas influenciou o número de indivíduos, de jovens e de espécies residentes, enquanto a cobertura bêntica não pareceu ser um determinante importante para quaisquer das variáveis de peixes avaliadas. Esses resultados sugerem que a disponibilidade de abrigo (proteção física) é mais limitante que a disponibilidade de alimento (i.e. cobertura bêntica). Além disso, hidrodinamismo apresentou valores relativamente baixos, porém, influenciando negativamente os peixes. As atividades recreativas, apesar de aparentemente não-impactantes, tiveram um efeito negativo na abundância de peixes, com a área parcialmente protegida (Atalaia) mostrando uma estrutura semelhante à área não-protegida (Porto). Esses resultados sugerem que a presença humana, mesmo em áreas fiscalizadas, pode interferir na estrutura dos peixes recifais. É necessário uma proposta de gestão e de práticas de turismo de baixo impacto especialmente nas áreas parcialmente protegidas e não-protegidas.

Palavras chave: Oceano Atlântico, cobertura bêntica, peixes recifais, hidrodinamismo, turismo.

Abstract: Several factors have the potential to influence the distribution and composition of reef fish communities. Amongst the most important are rugosity, wave exposure, substrate cover and human activities. The present study evaluated the influence of these factors on reef fishes from sites following a gradient of human-induced effects on the Fernando de Noronha archipelago, northeast Brazil and determined their relative importance to reef fish ecology. Rugosity did not influence fish richness, but had a positive influence on number of individuals, juveniles and endemic species, whereas benthic cover did not seem to be an important determinant for any fish variable evaluated. These results suggest that availability of shelter (physical protection) is more limiting than availability of food (i.e. benthic cover). Furthermore, water flow showed somewhat low values, but even so, had negative effects on fish numbers. Recreational activities, albeit seemingly non-impacting, had a negative effect on fish abundance with the partially protected site (Atalaia) showing a similar community structure to the unrestricted site (Porto). These results suggest that human presence, even when supervised, may interfere on reef fish structure. Low-impact tourism practices are required especially in partially protected and unprotected areas.

Key words: Atlantic Ocean, benthic cover, reef fishes, hydrodynamics, tourism.


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.29215/pecen.v1i1.175

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