MEPS - Vol. 304 - Feature article

The Terminos Lagoon in the southern Gulf of Mexico where biotic homogenization — potentially leading to a loss of ecosystem resilience — was observed over an 18 yr period. Red: mangroves and tropical forest. Green: agricultural areas and grass. Dark blue: low turbidity waters; light blue: high turbidity waters. Photo: D. Flores Hernández, L.A. Ayala Pérez, J. Ramos Miranda

Julia Ramos Miranda, David Mouillot, Domingo Flores Hernandez, Atahualpa Sosa Lopez, Thang Do Chi, Luis Ayala Perez

 

Changes in four complementary facets of fish diversity in a tropical coastal lagoon after 18 years: a functional interpretation

 

In the Southern Gulf of Mexico, the Terminos Lagoon is a critical habitat for many species and was officially designated a “Protected area for Flora and Fauna” in 1994. Despite this protected status, this ecosystem continues to support commercial fisheries and oil extraction on the adjacent continental shelf as well as agricultural activities on the watershed. Using data from sampling in 1980–1981 and 1998–1999, the authors characterize a shift in hydrological conditions from a hypohaline to euhaline/hyperhaline state in the lagoon. Taxonomic diversity of the ichthyofauna has decreased over this 18 yr period. Variations in species richness and evenness are mainly associated with seasonal and spatial variation. This result suggests a loss of functional diversity and a biotic homogenization in the lagoon fish community; this could have detrimental effects on the ecosystem.

 

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