Coral Reef Fish Assemblages at Banco Chinchorro, Mexican Caribbean
Abstract:As part of the characterization studies for the management plan of the Banco Chinchorro biosphere reserve, an atoll-like reef off the Caribbean coast of Mexico, fish assemblages and abundances by trophic groups were analyzed. Over the course of three years 384 visual censuses, in 20 × 2-m transects, were conducted in a series of strata previously defined by coral structure and development. The known (mainly non-cryptic) ichthyofauna of Chinchorro consists of 163 species. Twenty-four of these (in ten families, contributing 3.29% of the recorded individuals) are regularly captured by fishery cooperatives operating within Chinchorro. Deep or shallow zones with good reef development tended to have more species and a higher fish density; these zones are located in four (out of 17) regions, which have been proposed for conservation. Six trophic groups were distinguished: benthophagous fishes (Haemulidae, Labridae) were the most abundant group (37.6%), followed by planktivores (27.4%) and omnivores (20.0%) (mainly Pomacentridae). Herbivores (Acanthuridae, Scaridae) were intermediate in abundance (12.2%), and higher trophic levels (piscivores and ichthyobenthophagous fishes: Serranidae, Lutjanidae, Carangidae) had the lowest densities (below 2%). Overfishing may have affected fish communities at Chinchorro; this was inferred because commercial fish populations are scarce and individuals are small.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 2003-07-01
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