ECOLOGICAL ASSESSMENT OÍ THE CORAL REEFS WEST OF CAYO LARGO DEL SUR, CUBA: 1998- 1999
Cayo Largo del Sur, located in the southwest of Cuba south of tho Gull ol Batabano. is a beach and diving resort, far from tho mam island of Cuba and from Isla do la Juventud. Therefore, it is lar from irrportant permanent human settlements and from all agncultural and industrial development. However its wostorn roofs aro sufforing a gradual deterioration process. Groat scarcity of mesoherbivores (sea urchin Diadema antitlarum. as well as scand and acanthund fishes), and high nutrient concentrations were observed. As a consequence, an excossivo algal and cyanobactonal mat proliferation occurred. It has boon reinforced by high temperatures in 1998 and by the simplification of bottom roliof bocause of coral mortality caused by diseases and cyclones. The lator provont tho reestablishment ol herbívoro spooes populations. Finally, there sooms to bo a local nutrient generation in the reels Iron» the decomposition ol groat amounts ol algal detritus Coreidtng with high temperatures during the 1998 El Nirto and La Niña, an intense coral bleachtftg ovent took place, but with very limited mortally The dedmo ol coral cover m the deeper stations sooms be more determined by cumulative partial deaths ol the colonies, than by sudden death oI whole colonies. Evidences ol massive coral mortality wore observed only in the crests.
coral reets; status; Cuba
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