Coral communities and reefs from Guerrero, Southern Mexican Pacific

Authors


Ramón A. López-Pérez, Instituto de Recursos, Universidad del Mar, Puerto Ángel. AP 47, CP 70902, Oaxaca, Mexico.
E-mail: alopez@angel.umar.mx

Abstract

Corals in the Eastern Pacific extend south from the Gulf of California to Ecuador and oceanic Chile, and west from Colombia to Clipperton Atoll. Nevertheless, large stretches of the Mexican Pacific remain fundamentally unstudied. Therefore, to assess the current conditions of coral communities, a coastal fringe ∼300 km long (17°40′ N, 101°39′ W to 16°46′ N, 99°49′ W) was surveyed within the Southern Mexican Pacific, between 2005 and 2009. Fifteen stony coral species were identified at 13 coral communities and six Pocillopora-dominated fringing reefs, with Pocillopora verrucosa and Pocillopora damicornis the primary contributing taxa. Reef development was identified in embayments or behind rocks or islands that offered shelter from northern and northwestern winds. Observations of Pocillopora effusus, Pocillopora inflata, Porites lobata, Pavona clavus, and Pavona varians expanded the species known geographic ranges by several degrees of latitude, suggesting reef building fauna comprised a mixture of widespread and relatively rare Eastern Pacific corals. Results indicated greater live coral cover in the Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo area (15–73%) than in the Acapulco localities, which had high algal dominance; the reefs in the latter region exhibited high erosion. Regional differences are likely the result of long-standing anthropogenic pressures around Acapulco since 1950, when it became an important tourist destination. This paper is the first detailed report of ecologically stressed corals and coral reefs from the state of Guerrero on the Mexican Southern Pacific coast.

Ancillary