, Volume 770, Issue 1, pp 209–224 | Cite as

Trophic models and short-term simulations for the coral reefs of Cayos Cochinos and Media Luna (Honduras): a comparative network analysis, ecosystem development, resilience, and fishery

  • Ignacio Cáceres
  • Marco Ortiz
  • Amílcar L. Cupul-Magaña
  • Fabián A. Rodríguez-Zaragoza
Primary Research Paper


We analyzed the trophic functioning of two Caribbean coral reefs with different disturbances, comparing their biomass flows, ecosystem development, and resilience. Cayos Cochinos is a protected reef impacted by tourism, artisanal fisheries, and continental river discharges, while Media Luna is an isolated reef located near to a lobster industrial fishery zone. Ecopath models were built to (1) estimate the ecosystem status-related properties; (2) evaluate the system recovery time; and (3) assess the fishery effects on species and functional groups. Our results indicate that the biomass of both systems is dominated by macroalgae (>75%), mainly at Cayos Cochinos that exhibit greater total system throughput. We show that the harvest of herbivores and coastal eutrophication causes increase in macroalgal biomass. The Media Luna ecosystem appears to be more mature and organized (Pp/R = 1.6, FCI = 6.95%), but is also less resistant to fishery impact (SRT = 10.79 and 21.72 years using bottom-up and top-down flow-control mechanisms, respectively) than Cayos Cochinos (SRT = 9.30 and 16.89). The benthic autotrophs, phytoplankton, and soft corals are the most important functional groups to the trophic functioning, resilience, and development of these ecosystems. However, fishery simulations also show that snappers and spiny lobster reduce the resilience of Cayos Cochinos and Media Luna, respectively.


Food webs Ecopath models Coral reefs Honduras Cayos Cochinos Honduran Mosquitia 



The first author (Ignacio Caceres) thanks Universidad de Antofagasta (Chile) through the program “Magister en Ecología de Sistemas Acuáticos” for the postgrad scholarship. We like to thank the World Wildlife Fund-Central America (WWF-Ca) for their contribution of field work, fishery data and for their financial support during the sampling time in Cayos Cochinos and with the research cruise to the Miskito Cays Honduras. In particular, we would like to thank Alicia Medina and Pablo Rico of WWF-Ca. We also thank all those who participated in the field work (e.g., Fundación Cayos Cochinos, M.R. Priego, D. Godard, and I. Bonilla), collecting information from fisheries, and information provided for trophic models. Finally, we are grateful for comments and observations by two anonymous referees who considerably improved the quality of this work.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ignacio Cáceres
    • 1
    • 2
  • Marco Ortiz
    • 1
  • Amílcar L. Cupul-Magaña
    • 3
  • Fabián A. Rodríguez-Zaragoza
    • 4
  1. 1.Laboratorio de Modelamiento de Sistemas Ecológicos Complejos (LAMSEC), Instituto de Antofagasta (IA), Instituto de Ciencias Naturales AvH, Facultad de Ciencias del Mar y Recursos BiológicosUniversidad de AntofagastaAntofagastaChile
  2. 2.Programa de Magister en Ecología de Sistemas AcuáticosUniversidad de AntofagastaAntofagastaChile
  3. 3.Departamento de Ciencias Biológicas, CUCostaUniversidad de GuadalajaraPuerto VallartaMexico
  4. 4.Laboratorio de Ecosistemas Marinos y Acuicultura (LEMA), Departamento de Ecología, CUCBAUniversidad de GuadalajaraZapopanMexico

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