River hydrological seasonality influences life history strategies of tropical riverine fishes

TitreRiver hydrological seasonality influences life history strategies of tropical riverine fishes
Type de publicationJournal Article
Year of Publication2008
AuteursTedesco, P, Hugueny, B, Oberdorff, T, Durr, HH, Merigoux, S, de Merona, B

Under a particular set of selective forces, specific combinations of traits (strategies) will be favored in a given population, within the particular constraints of the considered species. For fishes, three demographic strategies have been suggested to result from adaptive responses to environmental predictability (i.e., seasonality): periodic, opportunistic and equilibrium [Winemiller KO, Rose KA (1992) Patterns of life-history diversification in North American fishes: implications for population regulation. Can J Fish Aquat Sci 49:2196-2218]. These strategies optimize fitness within predictable, unpredictable and stable systems, respectively. We tested these predictions of life history trait distribution along a gradient of hydrologic seasonality in West African tropical rivers at the drainage basin scale. We used logistic regression of species presence-absence data to test whether dominant life history traits of species caused community compositional change in response to a gradient of seasonality in hydrologic regime across basins. After accounting for taxonomic relatedness, species body size and statistical redundancy inherent to related traits, we found a higher proportion of species producing a great number of small oocytes, reproducing within a short period of time and presenting a low degree of parental care (the periodic strategy) in highly seasonal drainage basins (e.g., rivers with a short and predictable favorable season). Conversely, in more stable drainage basins (e.g., rivers with a wet season of several months), we observed a greater proportion of species producing small numbers of large oocytes, reproducing within a long period of time and providing parental care to their offspring (the equilibrium strategy). Our results suggest that distributions of tropical freshwater fishes at the drainage basin scale can be partly explained by the match between life history strategies and seasonality gradients in hydrological conditions.