MEPS 498:27-41 (2014)  -  doi:10.3354/meps10631

Connectivity patterns among coral reef systems in the southern Gulf of Mexico

L. Sanvicente-Añorve1,*, J. Zavala-Hidalgo2, M. E. Allende-Arandía2, M. Hermoso-Salazar

1Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Instituto de Ciencias del Mar y Limnología, Unidad Académica de Ecología y Biodiversidad Acuática, Circuito Exterior S/N, Ciudad Universitaria, 04510 México DF, Mexico
2Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Centro de Ciencias de la Atmósfera, Circuito Exterior S/N, Ciudad Universitaria, 04510 México DF, Mexico
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: This study simulated the connectivity patterns among 7 coral reef systems in the southern Gulf of Mexico. Two subgroups of reefs were considered: one near the mainland over the narrow western shelf, and the other over the wide Campeche Bank (CB). A particle-tracking module was coupled to a realistic simulation with the Hybrid Coordinate Ocean Model in order to study the transport and dispersion of particles in near surface waters. The simulation consisted of the launch of 100 passive particles (virtual larvae) from each reef, every 24 h over a 5 year period; it considered species lasting up to 35 d in the plankton and assumed no seasonality in reproduction. On the western shelf, connection was northwards from March to August, and southwards from September to February; over the CB edge, the connection was northwestwards throughout the year. Over the western shelf, reefs showed a strong degree of interconnectivity and high particle retention. Higher self-recruitment was most likely due to the passage of synoptic-scale atmospheric systems and their associated changes in wind and current direction. In contrast, CB reefs exhibited lower connectivity and less larval retention. Over the western edge of the Bank, connectivity was almost unidirectional because of the influence of the cyclonic gyre in the Campeche Bay, which causes particles to disperse over a wide area with low probabilities of self-recruitment. The main connection pathway was the confluence zone between neritic and oceanic waters over the outer shelf of the Bank. Connection between the 2 groups of reefs was weak.


KEY WORDS: Ecological network · Dispersal pathways · Self-recruitment · Source–sink sites · Numerical circulation models · Marine protected areas


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Cite this article as: Sanvicente-Añorve L, Zavala-Hidalgo J, Allende-Arandía ME, Hermoso-Salazar M (2014) Connectivity patterns among coral reef systems in the southern Gulf of Mexico. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 498:27-41

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