ECHINODERMS ASSOCIATED WITH REEF FORMATIONS IN ZIHUATANEJO AND ACAPULCO, GUERRERO, MEXICO
Knowledge of echinoderms from Zihuatanejo and Acapulco, Guerrero is currently limited to taxonomic listings. This work attempts to characterize better the community of these organisms associated to coral reefs in this region using band transects of 50 m length by 1 m width. Two samplings were carried out in 2004, one in the rainy season and other in the dry season. Ten species, three Asteroidea, six Echinoidea and one Holothuroidea, were found. The mean values obtained for diversity in the 13 study sites (1.036 bits ind-1) are considered low when compared with the maximum possible diversity (3.322 bits ind-1), and this is likely due to the dominance of the black sea urchin Diadema mexicanum and the starsh Phataria unifascialis, with densities reported of 1.45±0.60 ind m-2 and 0.12±0.02 ind m-2, respectively. The highest diversity was associated with low tide, which is not different between localities. The spatial arrangement of the echinoderm species composition obtained by the multidimensional scaling analysis denotes the formation of ve conglomerates according to similarity, where the substratum and reef cover are the possible determinant variables. The four predominant species (D. mexicanum, P. unifascialis, Toxopneustes roseus and Hesperocidaris asteriscus), whose densities were compared with those of other sites of the Oriental Tropical Pacic, show, in general, inferior values for Echinoidea and intermediate values for the Asteroidea. For the specic case of D. mexicanum, there are differences in the densities between localities, depths, and time of year, and the mean value obtained of 1.45±0.60 ind m-2 was low compared to densities recorded in other zones. Also, it was observed that in some localities, such as Playa Coral, Caleta de Chon, Punta del Cerro Colorado, and Zacatoso, the sea urchin densities increased considerably during the rainy season, and these high densities maintain a positive correlation with coral cover, which is indicative of a balanced ecosystem. It was also detected that in localities close to Acapulco, which undergo more tourist activity, such as Isla Roqueta, Ensenada de Llantos, and Pichilingue, the diversity of echinoderms is lower (0.6 bits ind-2) and the abundance of D. mexicanum is higher. These results, plus those of other studies at Acapulco Bay, suggest that pertinent actions should be taken to avoid similar phase shifts on reefs of Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo, which are currently considered to be the best developed in the Mexican Tropical Pacic.
Echinodermata; Coral reef; Diversity; Diadema mexicanum; Guerrero Coast
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