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Coral Reefs

, Volume 36, Issue 4, pp 1039–1046 | Cite as

A case for redefining the boundaries of the Mesoamerican Reef Ecoregion

  • Iliana Chollett
  • Lysel Garavelli
  • Daniel Holstein
  • Laurent Cherubin
  • Stuart Fulton
  • Stephen J. Box
Report

Abstract

The Mesoamerican Reef (MAR) is an interconnected system that supports the local economies of four countries through the provision of seafood and tourism. Considerable financial, research and management effort has been invested in this priority ecoregion, whose boundaries were defined more than 18 yr ago based on best available data on oceanographic patterns, reef and watershed distribution. The long-term persistence of the MAR depends, however, on ensuring that all of its constituent parts are appropriately managed, and the current boundaries may not respond to this need. Here we assess the suitability of the current boundaries of the MAR using information on physical environments and larval connectivity of three key species. Our research indicates the boundaries of the ecoregion require an adjustment, as the exclusion of key areas in eastern Honduras might jeopardize the persistence of the entire network of connected reefs, and areas in northern Yucatan belong to a different environmental regime and may require different management strategies.

Keywords

Caribbean Connectivity Oceanography Biogeography Tropical coastal ecosystems 

Notes

Acknowledgements

Remote sensing observations of sea surface temperature and phytoplankton pigment concentration were processed at the Institute for Marine Remote Sensing at the College of Marine Science, University of South Florida, in St. Petersburg, Florida, and provided courtesy of Frank Müller-Karger. Thanks to Carlos Saavedra for highlighting the need to redefine the boundaries of the MAR as a priority in the region and to the MAR replenishment zones working team for putting the issue back on the table. IC, SF and SJB are supported by the Summit Foundation. SF has additional support from the Walton Family Foundation. LG and LC are supported in part by the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute Foundation. This is Smithsonian Marine Station Contribution Number 1066.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Smithsonian Marine StationSmithsonian InstitutionFort PierceUSA
  2. 2.Coastal and Marine Sciences InstituteUniversity of California DavisDavisUSA
  3. 3.Florida Atlantic UniversityHarbor Branch Oceanographic InstituteFort PierceUSA
  4. 4.Nicholas School of the Environment and Duke Marine LabDuke UniversityBeaufortUSA
  5. 5.Comunidad y Biodiversidad A.CPuerto MorelosMexico
  6. 6.RareArlingtonUSA

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