Coral cover decline on La Chola reef (Eastern Tropical Pacific)
La Chola Reef is located at the easternmost sector of the Eastern Tropical Pacific. This coral formation of 11 ha is dominated by branching corals of the genus Pocillopora. The main goal of this study was to evaluate changes in coral cover over time, by comparing data collected in 2002 and 2013, implementing the chain transect methodology. Additionally, we generated an up-to-date map of this reef using field data collected with a GPS and present the first in-situ water temperature data. The reef exhibited a 20% coral cover decline during the study period, with associated increases in algal cover (mainly coralline algae). Total extension of the reef seems to have remained stable during the last 30 years. Besides the usual stressors commonly associated with limitations in coral reef development in this region of the Pacific, seasonal decreases in temperature are proposed as a potential cause of coral cover loss on the deeper sectors
of the reef.
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