Biodiversity of Holocene marine fish of the southeast coast of Brazil

Abstract Middens are archaeological sites dating between 8,000 and 1,000 years before present and are commonly found on the Brazilian coast. Data were collected from 68 middens allowing an inventory of 142 fish species, most of them recorded in no more than five sites. Conversely, Micropogonias furnieri and Pogonias cromis had the highest frequencies of occurrence. The biogeographic, ecological and economic data showed that most of the identified fish are widely distributed in the Western Atlantic (59.72%) and inhabit estuarine environments (53.99%), while most species have a demersal habit (35.92%) and exhibit oceanic migratory behaviour (28.87%). Lastly, the surveyed fish are predominantly carnivorous (72.54%) with some commercial value (96.48%). Chi-squared tests comparing midden inventory and current ichthyofauna checklists failed to show significant differences between them (p > 0.99). Thus, the results indicate that zoo-archaeological fish remains are key evidence of Holocene biodiversity and may help the establishment of more complete baselines.