Assessment of rocky reef fish assemblages close to seaweed farming.
The seaweed Kappaphycus alvarezii (Doty) Doty ex P. C. Silva, a red algal species, is the main global source of Kappa carrageenan. The introduction of such exotic species in regions outside their original locale can change the community structure of the areas into which they are introduced. The possible influence of seaweed farming on the rocky reef fish assemblage was assessed in Paraty, Brazil. The reef fish assemblage in the seaweed farming area was compared before and after the commencement of farming with two undisturbed control areas. Among the ten species ranked as the most frequently occurring in each area, eight were the same. The fish community structure close to the seaweed farming area did not change from that of the control areas, over the months of the study. Neither the fish diversity and richness indices, nor the total average abundance among areas was significantly altered. The average abundance of the different trophic groups varied over time in both the farm and control areas, revealing similar patterns. These results suggest that K. alvarezii can be cultivated up to at least 50 m from a rocky coast without altering the fish community structure of the surrounding waters.