Air-breathing and movement ecology of Arapaima sp. in the Amazon
Stokes, Gretchen Louise
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The annual hydrological cycle of floodplains supports fishes that are uniquely adapted to optimize resources throughout the year. Such adaptations to changing environments include air-breathing for seasonally hypoxic waters and directed movements to best utilize habitats as they become available. This study examined the environmental, temporal and body-size influences on air-breathing behavior and movement ecology of Arapaima sp., one of the most economically and ecologically significant species in the Amazon. Acoustic (n=15) and radio (n=12) telemetry was used to study the influences on air-breathing and movement ecology of arapaima in the Central Amazon. Generalized additive mixed models showed that temperature was the most influential predictor of air-breathing intervals, followed by body size. The shortest breathing intervals were associated with consecutive "aggressive" breaths while the longest breathing intervals had consecutive "calm" breaths. Generalized linear mixed models showed that flood stage was the most important predictor of residency time, directional movement, and rate of movement. Fish moved faster in the flood and dry stages than the rising and falling stages, and spent longer in one place in the rising and falling stages than the flood and dry stages. Findings of this study may be used to inform management decisions for arapaima conservation, such as protected habitat and population counts, with applications to fishes across river-floodplain ecosystems globally.
- Masters Theses