Describing community structure of reef fish within seagrass, mangrove and reef habitats: using ecological data to evaluate management effectiveness of Bacalar Chico National Park and Marine Reserve

Marine protected areas (MPAs) are increasingly envisaged as a tool to manage coastal ecosystems. Assessment of their performance with respect to management objectives is therefore important. Furthermore, identifying habitats essential to vulnerable life stages is a key step for the effective design and management of MPAs. The main aims of this study were to evaluate any effectiveness trends related to differentiated areas of protection within Bacalar Chico Marine Reserve (BCMR) and to provide initial insight to possible habitat partitioning and ontogenetic migration of selected reef fish in mangroves, seagrass and coral reef in this reserve. Total abundance and mean density were used to assess significant differences in reef fish community structure between areas of protection and differentiated utilization of biotopes. Inconclusive results obtained don’t allow to make irrefutable conclusions regarding this MPA’s effectiveness. Habitat partitioning analysis indicate differentiated species specific usage of biotopes and strata along different life stages. In conclusion, there is a need to identify which habitats and strata should be prioritized for conservation action within BCMR, and incorporate combinations of locations and connected corridors in the design of this MPA in order to contribute to an effective replenishment and recovery of key species.

ISCED Categories

The highlighted icons, represent the fields of education (in compliance with ISCED Classification) engaged during this course/programme.

0521 - Ecology", "0522 - Conservation and environmental management