Effect of habitat structure on the most frequent echinoderm species inhabiting coral reef communities at Isla Isabel National Park (Mexico)

Abstract

The spatial distribution and abundance of the seven most abundant species of echinoderms (Diadema mexicanum, Centrostephanus coronatus, Eucidaris thouarsii, Isostichopus fuscus, Pharia pyramidatus, Phataria unifascialis and Acanthaster ellisii) were evaluated in coral communities of Isla Isabel National Park (Mexico). Biological (corals and other benthic groups) and physical (rocks and boulders) structural elements of the habitat were evaluated to determine their relationship to these species. Our results show that species composition and abundance varied among sampling sites and between seasons. Also were obtained significant differences in the echinoderm assemblage among sites across seasons. Similar results were detected for the environmental variables related to benthic habitat structure. D. mexicanum, P. unifascialis, E. thouarsii and C. coronatus were the main contributors to the species abundance and distribution in Isla Isabel. Most echinoderm species were positively related to the coverage of different coral species, algae and various types of benthic organisms as well as to physical benthic variables. These outcomes suggest that the spatial distribution and abundance of these echinoderms are explained by the habitat structure, which should be used to design conservation and management strategies for coral communities.

Abbreviations

BVI:

Biological Value Index

PERMANOVA:

Permutational Multivariate Analysis of Variance

RDA:

Redundancy Analysis

VIF:

Variance Inflation Factor

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Hermosillo-Nuñez, B., Rodríguez-Zaragoza, F., Ortiz, M. et al. Effect of habitat structure on the most frequent echinoderm species inhabiting coral reef communities at Isla Isabel National Park (Mexico). COMMUNITY ECOLOGY 16, 125–134 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1556/168.2015.16.1.14

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Keywords

  • Benthos
  • Conservation evaluation
  • Habitat management
  • Invertebrates
  • Marine Protected Area
  • Subtidal

Nomenclature

  • Kerstitch and Bertsch (2007)