Coral Community Structure and Dynamics in the Huatulco Area, Western Mexico
Coral reef community structure and dynamics have been poorly studied in places where high interannual variability is likely to occur. We conducted a quantitative interannual analysis of reef community structure and dynamics at five localities in Huatulco Pacific coast of Mexico. Between November 2000 and October 2001, monthly belt transects were surveyed in each locality. Cluster analysis, multidimensional scaling, and analysis of similarity demonstrated that even closely located sites (< 5 km) had community structures that differed by more than expected by chance. Nonetheless, all of the communities were dominated by pocilloporid species. Although there were variations in community structure through time, except for Jicaral-Chachacual, none was greater than expected by chance. A major disturbance occurred during February 2001 at Jicaral-Chachacual which selectively removed Pocillopora damicornis (Linnaeus, 1758). Temporal analysis of community structure at Jicaral-Chachacual following the disturbance suggests: (a) the existence of a progressive temporal change in community structure, and (b) the importance of Porites panamensis Verrill, 1866 and pocilloporid species, early and later in the successional stages. Analysis of coral reef community structure and dynamics, and oceanographic and historical data, suggest that Huatulco represents a mosaic of patches at different stages of recovery following disturbances.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 2004-11-01
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