Demersal bony fish of the outer shelf and upper slope of the southern Brazil Subtropical Convergence Ecossystem

Haimovici, Manuel; Martins, Agnaldo Silva; Figueiredo, José Lima de; Vieira, Pedro José Castelli


Ninety-three species of bony fishes were caught in 4 seasonal bottom-trawl surveys carried out between July 1986 and May 1987 on the outer shelf and upper slope (124 to 587 m depth) along the southern Brazilian coast (30°40' to 34"30' S). On the outer shelf (< 179 m), the demersalpelagic species Trichiurus lepturus, Trachurus lathami, Cynoscion guatucupa, Scomber japonicus, and Thyrsitops lepidopoides predominated and also to a lesser degree the demersal benthonic Umbrina canosai and Mullus argentinae. Antiyonia capros and Priacanthus arenatus were found associated with the relic coral hard bottoms of the shelf break (180 to 249 m). Further offshore, the demersal-pelagic species Ariomma bondi and Zenopsis conchifera and the demersal benthonic species Polyprion americanus and Helicolenus lahillei were abundant, both associated with rocky bottoms. The macrourids Coelorinchus marinii and Malacocephalus occidentalis characterized deep-water hauls p450 m). Frequent and widespread, but less abundant in the catch, were Polymixia lowei, Urophycis mystacea and Merluccius hubbsi. Mean total catch (kg h-') decreased 6-fold and the number of species by more than half along the depth range, with a sharp step at 350 m. Both catch and number of species were slightly higher in the winter cruises. Most species occurred in both winter and summer-autumn cruises, but, with increasing depth, the relative abundance of species that occur year-round decreased, whereas fishes that occur mostly in winter increased. The catch of demersal-pelagic fish decreased sharply below 350 m and differed little among seasons; catches of demersal-benthonic fish were more evenly distributed across the depth range and were larger in winter and spring. The high number of species on the shelf break may be attributable to the higher variety of soft and consolidated substrates and the overlapping of different water masses along the water column. The north-south shift of the western boundary of the Subtropical Convergence appears to be mainly responsible for the seasonal changes in abundance of the species.

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