Theses and Dissertations


Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Correa, Sandra B.

Committee Member

Tedesco, Pablo A.

Committee Member

Evans, Kristine O.

Committee Member

Granger, Joshua J.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Forest Resources

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


College of Forest Resources


Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture


The Amazon River drainage basin is known as the most biodiverse region in the world. Regarding freshwater fish, this region contains around 15% of the world's fish richness. The fish family Serrasalmidae have a variety of feeding preferences including Pacus (herbivores) and Piranhas (carnivores). Fruit eating fish species are evolutionarily the oldest species in the family and have a mutualistic interaction with flooded forests. Considering the diversity of feeding habits of the Serrasalmidae family, it represents an excellent model to study ecological questions related to factors that influence the spatial distribution of species and factors that contribute to the maintenance of biodiversity. I first analyzed how differences in dietary preferences influence the spatial distribution and habitat associations of species at the landscape scale using diet data and three proxies of habitat association derived from satellite products. Using Phylogenetic Generalized Least Squares models I evaluated the relationship between habitat association and feeding guilds. Differences in resource distribution (assessed through feeding guilds) can influence habitat associations. Considering the hydrological variability (i.e., floodplain extent) and landscape heterogeneity that characterize floodplains, the patterns of habitat association vary with the spatial scale considered. Second, I identified factors that aid in sustaining aquatic biodiversity in floodplain forests of the Amazon River basin, focusing on frugivorous fish. I used descriptors of the floodplain ecosystem- and landscape-level variables to assess their contribution to the maintenance of fish species richness. Using Generalized Linear Models (GLM) with negative binomial distribution I found that greater plant richness could offer a greater variety of food resources for frugivorous fishes and that a more extensive floodplain area provides larger forested habitat for fishes that depend on forest-derived food resources, as such subbasins with these characteristics support a greater frugivorous fish species richness. This work provides valuable information on species habitat associations by fish as well as food resource dynamics, floodplain dependence, and advances our understanding of the intricate relationship between forests and fish at a basin scale. This information is critical for assessing the impact of anthropogenic activities on freshwater ecosystems and can be used to inform conservation strategies in the tropics.