versão impressa ISSN 0185-3880
ALCOLADO, PM et al. Condition of remote reefs off southwest Cuba. Cienc. mar [online]. 2010, vol.36, n.2, pp. 179-197. ISSN 0185-3880.
There are few comprehensive studies on the condition of reefs that are remote from direct anthropogenic pressures and, therefore, ecological baseline data are scarce. To help address this deficiency, the community condition of the little-studied remote reefs along a 200-km-long tract bordering the Gulf of Batabano (southwest Cuba) was assessed. The reef-front coral communities (38 sites), where Montastraea spp. is the most common coral, were homogeneous along the entire reef tract. The reef-crest coral communities (30 sites), however, could be differentiated into three geographically distinct areas by their abundances of Acropora palmata and Diploria clivosa; the former predominated at 26 of the 30 reef-crest sites, but most colonies were "standing dead". This observation is similar to the massive declines of acroporid coral populations that have been documented throughout the Caribbean region. Mean coral cover (19-26%) was similar to the regional average (19-23%), but was surprisingly high (72%) at a protected reef-crest site close to an extensive mainland coastal mangrove (Ciénaga de Zapata). At this site, A. palmata and other acroporids were abundant and healthy, and Diadema antillarum density was higher than in the other surveyed areas. Reduced hurricane impact at this more sheltered site may have either circumvented a synergy with overfishing, hurricane destruction, and recruitment failure (widely reported at other degraded reefs), or maintained a high diademid population that facilitated coral recruitment and allowed rapid coral recovery following damage.
Palavras-chave : AGRRA; coral reef; Diadema; health assessment; hurricanes; Cuba.