versão impressa ISSN 0185-3880
The effects of Hurricane Emily (July 2005, Category 4) on nine different benthic substrates in the reef-associated landscape along the west coast of Cozumel (Mexico) were evaluated by comparing the cover of nine types of substrate on ground-truthed sites before (ten months) and after (two months) the hurricane. Four substrates showed significant differences (Wilcoxon signed-rank test, P < 0.05). Coverage of sand and sand over rock increased, while that of seagrass and hard corals decreased. The effects of the hurricane on soft corals diminished below 10 m depth. Sites between 0.5 and 5.5 m were less affected towards the southwest of the island, where the reefs are more developed. Algal cover was similar to prehurricane values after two months, which suggests fast algal recolonization. Cozumel reefs are considered to be healthy; however, a possible increase in the abundance of macroalgae as a result of hurricanes coupled with poorly regulated tourism activities could eventually favor a phase shift in the system.
Palavras-chave : hurricane effects; coral reef landscape; Cozumel.