Is environmental legislation conserving tropical stream faunas? A large-scale assessment of local, riparian and catchment-scale influences on Amazonian fish

C.G. Leal, J. Barlow, Toby A. Gardner, R.M. Hughes, Rafael P. Leitão, R. Mac Nally, P.R. Kaufmann, Silvio F. B. Ferraz, J. Zuanon, Felipe R. de Paula, Joice Ferreira, James R. Thomson, Gareth D. Lennox, Eurizangela P. Dary, Cristhiana P. Röpke, Paulo S. Pompeu

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    Abstract

    Agricultural expansion and intensification are major threats to tropical biodiversity. In addition to the direct removal of native vegetation, agricultural expansion often elicits other human-induced disturbances, many of which are poorly addressed by existing environmental legislation and conservation programmes. This is particularly true for tropical freshwater systems, where there is considerable uncertainty about whether a legislative focus on protecting riparian vegetation is sufficient to conserve stream fauna. To assess the extent to which stream fish are being effectively conserved in agricultural landscapes, we examined the spatial distribution of assemblages in river basins to identify the relative importance of human impacts at instream, riparian and catchment scales, in shaping observed patterns. We used an extensive dataset on the ecological condition of 83 low-order streams distributed in three river basins in the eastern Brazilian Amazon. We collected and identified 24,420 individual fish from 134 species. Multiplicative diversity partitioning revealed high levels of compositional dissimilarity (DS) among stream sites (DS = 0.74 to 0.83) and river basins (DS = 0.82), due mainly to turnover (77.8% to 81.8%) rather than nestedness. The highly heterogeneous fish faunas in small Amazonian streams underscore the vital importance of enacting measures to protect forests on private lands outside of public protected areas. Instream habitat features explained more variability in fish assemblages (15%-19%) than riparian (2%-12%), catchment (4%-13%) or natural covariates (4%-11%). Although grouping species into functional guilds allowed us to explain up to 31% of their abundance (i.e. for nektonic herbivores), individual riparian - and catchment - scale predictor variables that are commonly a focus of environmental legislation explained very little of the observed variation (partial R2 values mostly <5%). Policy implications. Current rates of agricultural intensification and mechanization in tropical landscapes are unprecedented, yet the existing legislative frameworks focusing on protecting riparian vegetation seem insufficient to conserve stream environments and their fish assemblages. To safeguard the species-rich freshwater biota of small Amazonian streams, conservation actions must shift towards managing whole basins and drainage networks, as well as agricultural practices in already-cleared land. © 2017 British Ecological Society.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1312-1326
    Number of pages15
    JournalJournal of Applied Ecology
    Volume55
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - May 2018

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    environmental legislation
    catchment
    fauna
    fish
    river basin
    riparian vegetation
    nestedness
    agricultural intensification
    private land
    drainage network
    agricultural practice
    guild
    anthropogenic effect
    protected area
    biota
    herbivore
    turnover
    partitioning
    agricultural land
    biodiversity

    Cite this

    Leal, C.G. ; Barlow, J. ; Gardner, Toby A. ; Hughes, R.M. ; Leitão, Rafael P. ; Mac Nally, R. ; Kaufmann, P.R. ; Ferraz, Silvio F. B. ; Zuanon, J. ; de Paula, Felipe R. ; Ferreira, Joice ; Thomson, James R. ; Lennox, Gareth D. ; Dary, Eurizangela P. ; Röpke, Cristhiana P. ; Pompeu, Paulo S. / Is environmental legislation conserving tropical stream faunas? A large-scale assessment of local, riparian and catchment-scale influences on Amazonian fish. In: Journal of Applied Ecology. 2018 ; Vol. 55, No. 3. pp. 1312-1326.
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    abstract = "Agricultural expansion and intensification are major threats to tropical biodiversity. In addition to the direct removal of native vegetation, agricultural expansion often elicits other human-induced disturbances, many of which are poorly addressed by existing environmental legislation and conservation programmes. This is particularly true for tropical freshwater systems, where there is considerable uncertainty about whether a legislative focus on protecting riparian vegetation is sufficient to conserve stream fauna. To assess the extent to which stream fish are being effectively conserved in agricultural landscapes, we examined the spatial distribution of assemblages in river basins to identify the relative importance of human impacts at instream, riparian and catchment scales, in shaping observed patterns. We used an extensive dataset on the ecological condition of 83 low-order streams distributed in three river basins in the eastern Brazilian Amazon. We collected and identified 24,420 individual fish from 134 species. Multiplicative diversity partitioning revealed high levels of compositional dissimilarity (DS) among stream sites (DS = 0.74 to 0.83) and river basins (DS = 0.82), due mainly to turnover (77.8{\%} to 81.8{\%}) rather than nestedness. The highly heterogeneous fish faunas in small Amazonian streams underscore the vital importance of enacting measures to protect forests on private lands outside of public protected areas. Instream habitat features explained more variability in fish assemblages (15{\%}-19{\%}) than riparian (2{\%}-12{\%}), catchment (4{\%}-13{\%}) or natural covariates (4{\%}-11{\%}). Although grouping species into functional guilds allowed us to explain up to 31{\%} of their abundance (i.e. for nektonic herbivores), individual riparian - and catchment - scale predictor variables that are commonly a focus of environmental legislation explained very little of the observed variation (partial R2 values mostly <5{\%}). Policy implications. Current rates of agricultural intensification and mechanization in tropical landscapes are unprecedented, yet the existing legislative frameworks focusing on protecting riparian vegetation seem insufficient to conserve stream environments and their fish assemblages. To safeguard the species-rich freshwater biota of small Amazonian streams, conservation actions must shift towards managing whole basins and drainage networks, as well as agricultural practices in already-cleared land. {\circledC} 2017 British Ecological Society.",
    author = "C.G. Leal and J. Barlow and Gardner, {Toby A.} and R.M. Hughes and Leit{\~a}o, {Rafael P.} and {Mac Nally}, R. and P.R. Kaufmann and Ferraz, {Silvio F. B.} and J. Zuanon and {de Paula}, {Felipe R.} and Joice Ferreira and Thomson, {James R.} and Lennox, {Gareth D.} and Dary, {Eurizangela P.} and R{\"o}pke, {Cristhiana P.} and Pompeu, {Paulo S.}",
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    Leal, CG, Barlow, J, Gardner, TA, Hughes, RM, Leitão, RP, Mac Nally, R, Kaufmann, PR, Ferraz, SFB, Zuanon, J, de Paula, FR, Ferreira, J, Thomson, JR, Lennox, GD, Dary, EP, Röpke, CP & Pompeu, PS 2018, 'Is environmental legislation conserving tropical stream faunas? A large-scale assessment of local, riparian and catchment-scale influences on Amazonian fish', Journal of Applied Ecology, vol. 55, no. 3, pp. 1312-1326. https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2664.13028

    Is environmental legislation conserving tropical stream faunas? A large-scale assessment of local, riparian and catchment-scale influences on Amazonian fish. / Leal, C.G.; Barlow, J.; Gardner, Toby A.; Hughes, R.M.; Leitão, Rafael P.; Mac Nally, R.; Kaufmann, P.R.; Ferraz, Silvio F. B.; Zuanon, J.; de Paula, Felipe R.; Ferreira, Joice; Thomson, James R.; Lennox, Gareth D.; Dary, Eurizangela P.; Röpke, Cristhiana P.; Pompeu, Paulo S.

    In: Journal of Applied Ecology, Vol. 55, No. 3, 05.2018, p. 1312-1326.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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    T1 - Is environmental legislation conserving tropical stream faunas? A large-scale assessment of local, riparian and catchment-scale influences on Amazonian fish

    AU - Leal, C.G.

    AU - Barlow, J.

    AU - Gardner, Toby A.

    AU - Hughes, R.M.

    AU - Leitão, Rafael P.

    AU - Mac Nally, R.

    AU - Kaufmann, P.R.

    AU - Ferraz, Silvio F. B.

    AU - Zuanon, J.

    AU - de Paula, Felipe R.

    AU - Ferreira, Joice

    AU - Thomson, James R.

    AU - Lennox, Gareth D.

    AU - Dary, Eurizangela P.

    AU - Röpke, Cristhiana P.

    AU - Pompeu, Paulo S.

    N1 - cited By 0; Article in Press

    PY - 2018/5

    Y1 - 2018/5

    N2 - Agricultural expansion and intensification are major threats to tropical biodiversity. In addition to the direct removal of native vegetation, agricultural expansion often elicits other human-induced disturbances, many of which are poorly addressed by existing environmental legislation and conservation programmes. This is particularly true for tropical freshwater systems, where there is considerable uncertainty about whether a legislative focus on protecting riparian vegetation is sufficient to conserve stream fauna. To assess the extent to which stream fish are being effectively conserved in agricultural landscapes, we examined the spatial distribution of assemblages in river basins to identify the relative importance of human impacts at instream, riparian and catchment scales, in shaping observed patterns. We used an extensive dataset on the ecological condition of 83 low-order streams distributed in three river basins in the eastern Brazilian Amazon. We collected and identified 24,420 individual fish from 134 species. Multiplicative diversity partitioning revealed high levels of compositional dissimilarity (DS) among stream sites (DS = 0.74 to 0.83) and river basins (DS = 0.82), due mainly to turnover (77.8% to 81.8%) rather than nestedness. The highly heterogeneous fish faunas in small Amazonian streams underscore the vital importance of enacting measures to protect forests on private lands outside of public protected areas. Instream habitat features explained more variability in fish assemblages (15%-19%) than riparian (2%-12%), catchment (4%-13%) or natural covariates (4%-11%). Although grouping species into functional guilds allowed us to explain up to 31% of their abundance (i.e. for nektonic herbivores), individual riparian - and catchment - scale predictor variables that are commonly a focus of environmental legislation explained very little of the observed variation (partial R2 values mostly <5%). Policy implications. Current rates of agricultural intensification and mechanization in tropical landscapes are unprecedented, yet the existing legislative frameworks focusing on protecting riparian vegetation seem insufficient to conserve stream environments and their fish assemblages. To safeguard the species-rich freshwater biota of small Amazonian streams, conservation actions must shift towards managing whole basins and drainage networks, as well as agricultural practices in already-cleared land. © 2017 British Ecological Society.

    AB - Agricultural expansion and intensification are major threats to tropical biodiversity. In addition to the direct removal of native vegetation, agricultural expansion often elicits other human-induced disturbances, many of which are poorly addressed by existing environmental legislation and conservation programmes. This is particularly true for tropical freshwater systems, where there is considerable uncertainty about whether a legislative focus on protecting riparian vegetation is sufficient to conserve stream fauna. To assess the extent to which stream fish are being effectively conserved in agricultural landscapes, we examined the spatial distribution of assemblages in river basins to identify the relative importance of human impacts at instream, riparian and catchment scales, in shaping observed patterns. We used an extensive dataset on the ecological condition of 83 low-order streams distributed in three river basins in the eastern Brazilian Amazon. We collected and identified 24,420 individual fish from 134 species. Multiplicative diversity partitioning revealed high levels of compositional dissimilarity (DS) among stream sites (DS = 0.74 to 0.83) and river basins (DS = 0.82), due mainly to turnover (77.8% to 81.8%) rather than nestedness. The highly heterogeneous fish faunas in small Amazonian streams underscore the vital importance of enacting measures to protect forests on private lands outside of public protected areas. Instream habitat features explained more variability in fish assemblages (15%-19%) than riparian (2%-12%), catchment (4%-13%) or natural covariates (4%-11%). Although grouping species into functional guilds allowed us to explain up to 31% of their abundance (i.e. for nektonic herbivores), individual riparian - and catchment - scale predictor variables that are commonly a focus of environmental legislation explained very little of the observed variation (partial R2 values mostly <5%). Policy implications. Current rates of agricultural intensification and mechanization in tropical landscapes are unprecedented, yet the existing legislative frameworks focusing on protecting riparian vegetation seem insufficient to conserve stream environments and their fish assemblages. To safeguard the species-rich freshwater biota of small Amazonian streams, conservation actions must shift towards managing whole basins and drainage networks, as well as agricultural practices in already-cleared land. © 2017 British Ecological Society.

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