The ecomorphological diversity of Amazonian stream fishes is constrained by phylogenetic relationships

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Bruno Eleres Soares , Naraiana L. Benone, Rafael P. Leitão, Cecília G. Leal, Luciana L. Santos, Luciano Fogaça de Assis Montag, Érica P. Caramaschi


Phylogenetic history and environmental conditions determine trait diversity of species pools. Stream fishes have diversified into a wide range of body and oral shapes that allow a similarly wide range of functional traits that are related to resource use and phylogenetic closeness. Herein, we analyzed 16 ecomorphological traits of nearly 400 fishes inhabiting streams distributed across the Brazilian Amazon to (i) describe the main axes of ecomorphological variation of Amazonian stream fishes; (ii) quantify the proportion of the potential combination of traits displayed by the regional pool of species; (iii) evaluate the distribution of taxonomic orders and families in those axes; (iii) determine the overall contributions of taxonomic orders to the regional ecomorphological diversity. Our results show that Amazonian stream fishes concentrate around multiple combinations of traits defined by five axes of ecomorphological variation. The benthic-nektonic axis segregates fishes with upper-positioned eyes and wide mouth gapes from fishes with lower-positioned eyes and narrow mouth gapes related to narrower body shapes. Benthic fishes further differ in three groups of species depending on ecomorphological traits coupling different strategies for feeding and swimming. Taxonomic order and family constrained species position along these axes of variation and consequently determined their contribution to overall ecomorphological variation. Overall, we show that five axes related to habitat and food partitioning explain most of the ecomorphological diversity of Amazonian stream fishes, but taxonomic identity determines species suite of traits.



Biodiversity, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Life Sciences


Regional diversity, Ecomorphological structure, Ecological niche, Fish assemblages, functional diversity, ecomorphology, ecological niche, Fish assemblages, functional diversity


Published: 2023-09-30 06:39

Last Updated: 2023-12-17 01:28

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CC-BY Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International

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Data and Code Availability Statement:
Dataset and coding supporting this manuscript are available at Zenodo (10.5281/zenodo.6329980).