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Revista de Biología Tropical

On-line version ISSN 0034-7744Print version ISSN 0034-7744


AGUIRRE-LEON, Arturo; PEREZ-PONCE, Hilda Elín  and  DIAZ-RUIZ, Silvia. Environmental heterogeneity and its relationship with diversity and abundance of the fish community in a coastal system of Gulf of Mexico. Rev. biol. trop [online]. 2014, vol.62, n.1, pp.157-176. ISSN 0034-7744.

The coastal lagoons of Veracruz, Gulf of Mexico, include a great variety of biological resources. These resources, especially fish communities, have been barely described and that require more ecological studies. With this aim, this investigation analyzed the spatial and temporal variation of diversity, abundance and assemblages of the fish community and its relationship with physical-chemical parameters of the Chica-Grande coastal system. For this, eight defined sites were monthly sampled for water characteristics and fish community composition (10min hauls of 1 500m2 a shrimp trawl net), between September 2005 and November 2006. The spatial-temporal variation of physical-chemical parameters, allowed the definition of two contrasting environments according to salinity, temperature, transparency, dissolved oxy-gen and depth gradients. A total of 1 947 fishes were collected for a total weight of 57.88kg. From these, 22 species, 20 genera and 14 families were identified; and four species were new records for the system. As it was detected for the physical-chemical conditions, the diversity of the fish community also showed a spatial gradient, with high values (H’=2.37, D=3.35, J’=0.82) in the brackish habitat, and low ones in freshwater environments. Fish abundance did not show such a marked gradient response, however, it was higher in the freshwater habitat. The highest diversity (H’=2.05) and species richness (D=2.99) was recorded during the North winds (“nortes”) months (November-February), while density and biomass were higher (0.034 ind./m2, 1.42g/m2) during the rainy months (July-October). The Importance Value Index (IVI) defined six dominant species accounting for 77.8% of the fish abundance and 87.9% of total catch by weight. The Canonical Correspondence Analysis (CCA) showed that the fish-habitat relationship was explained by 68% of total variance for the two first axes, where salinity, transparency and temperature changes were the most important environmental variables in determining the fish community composition and distribution. In this study, spatial gradients of environmental variables explained the changes in fish species composition and abundance; while the temporal gradients, the fish community structure and its relationship with seasonal patterns of habitat use by the species during their life cycles.

Keywords : environmental heterogeneity; community structure; fish-habitat relationships; Chica-Grande lagoon; Veracruz; México.

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