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Ciencias marinas

versión impresa ISSN 0185-3880


ARIAS-GONZALEZ, JE; NUNEZ-LARA, E; RODRIGUEZ-ZARAGOZA, FA  y  LEGENDRE, P. Reefscape proxies for the conservation of Caribbean coral reef biodiversity. Cienc. mar [online]. 2011, vol.37, n.1, pp.87-96. ISSN 0185-3880.

The explanatory value of four hypotheses for geographic variation in total species richness and species richness was evaluated per family in coral and fish communities in the North Sector of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System (NS-MBRS). The four hypotheses emphasize different reefscape attributes that are important for coral and fish: reef area (RA), live coral cover (LCC), habitat complexity (HC), and coral richness itself and for fish. For both coral and fish communities, we estimated the total number of species and number of species per family on 11 coral reefs along a 400-km section of NS-MBRS. Hard coral cover and HC were quantified using line and chain transects, respectively, and RA was estimated using Landsat TM images and a geographic information system. We used multiple regression and canonical redundancy analysis to study the fish-environment and coral-environment relationships. The three reefscape features (RA, LCC, and HC) in combination were much stronger explanatory variables for the observed biogeographic patterns of fish and coral biodiversity than they were singly. Coral and fish species richness were strongly correlated. Indicators of functional diversity (fish trophic groups and coral morpho-functional groups) followed the same biogeographic patterns as species richness. Reefscape attributes (RA, LCC, and HC) were shown to be good proxies for critical coral reef biodiversity values. This means that simple reefscape attributes can be used to predict more complex biodiversity values of different reef areas. Such predictions can provide an invaluable guide for regional biodiversity assessments, the extrapolation of these results to unsurveyed areas, and guidance for ecoregionalization within large reef tracts where data are sparse.

Palabras llave : biodiversity; coral reefs; habitat complexity; live coral cover; Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System.

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