Population structure and reproductive biology of Astyanax gymnodontus (Characiformes: Characidae), a poorly known endemic fish of the Iguaçu River basin, Brazil
Success in fish breeding depends on reproduction intensity, periodicity and the place where it occurs. Information about fish species reproduction is important to assist managers, and to determine conservation and management strategies. The fish assemblage of the Iguaçu River basin is already known for its high endemism, and despite this privilege, the large number of dams built along it, threat this particular biodiversity. Astyanax gymnodontus is an endemic fish species and studies on its population structure and reproductive biology are important, since they represent the first step for further community studies. Our objective was to evaluate some aspects of the population structure and reproductive biology of A. gymnodontus in the influence area of Salto Santiago dam, Iguaçu River, Paraná State, Brazil. Sampling was made monthly from July 2003 to June 2005, and bimonthly from July 2005 to March 2013, at five sites in the influence area of Salto Santiago dam. Fishes were collected using 10 m length gillnets with meshes ranging from 2.5 to 6.0 cm between non-adjacent knots and trammel nets with inner meshes of 6.0 cm between non-adjacent knots. Nets were arranged on surface, bottom and margins of each site, exposed for 24 h. Additional drags on littoral areas were performed from January to March and October to December from 2009 to 2011, with 50.0 m nets, 0.5 cm mesh size, for juveniles capture. We captured and analyzed 21 932 individuals, being 9 249 females and 12 683 males, representing 42.2 % and 57.8 %, respectively. The average body length was 8.8 cm for females and 8.3 cm for males. The average weight was 18.8 g for females and 16.0 g for males. Sex ratio calculated for the entire period was 1.8 males/female. Males were more abundant than females in 73.2 % of samples and significant differences were observed in 35.3 % of samples. The estimated length at first maturity (SL50) was 6.4 cm for females and 6.2 cm for males. We suggest that sexual differences in body length and weight, and sex ratio occurred as a result of sexual differences in energy allocation. Females spend more energy on body growth, which means more eggs production and higher fecundity. As an integrated response, males spend more energy on sperm production, in competition with other males, leading to a smaller body size. Differences in estimated SL50 might be an indicator of this sexual difference in energy allocation. The reproduction period was from September to February, with greater intensity at the beginning of this period, and the sites of highest reproductive intensity were those immediate downstream from dams, and therefore with more riverine characteristics.