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Aquatic Microbial Ecology

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AME 47:223-237 (2007)  -  doi:10.3354/ame047223

Seasonal changes of benthic and epiphytic dinoflagellates in the Veracruz reef zone, Gulf of Mexico

Yuri B. Okolodkov1,*, Guadalupe Campos-Bautista2, Ismael Gárate-Lizárraga3, José Antonio Guillermo González-González4, Mona Hoppenrath5, Virgilio Arenas1

1Centro de Ecología y Pesquerías, Universidad Veracruzana, Calle Hidalgo No. 617, Col. Río Jamapa, Boca del Río, CP 94290, Veracruz, Mexico
2Acuario de Veracruz, Blvd. Manuel Ávila Camacho s/n, Playón de Hornos, CP 91700, Veracruz, Mexico
3Centro Interdisciplinario de Ciencias Marinas, CICIMAR-IPN, Departamento de Plancton y Ecología Marina, AP 592 La Paz, 23000 Baja California Sur, Mexico
4Instituto Oceanográfico del Golfo y Mar Caribe, Secretaría de Marina, Playa del Este s/n, El Salado, Antón Lizardo, CP 95263, Veracruz, Mexico
5University of British Columbia, Department of Botany, 6270 University Blvd., Vancouver, British Columbia V6T 1Z4, Canada

ABSTRACT: Benthic/epiphytic dinoflagellates were monitored every 2 wk from May to December 2005 in the Veracruz reef zone, Gulf of Mexico. This assemblage was characterized by low species diversity (at least 17 species from 11 genera) and high abundance: Amphidinium cf. carterae (41172 cells g–1 substrate wet weight), Prorocentrum lima (29756 cells g–1), Coolia monotis (2724 cells g–1), Ostreopsis heptagona (1202 cells g–1); P. lima was the dominant species. Clear seasonal population dynamics occurred, with the highest abundance in May–June, and the dynamics differed at 2 neighbouring sampling sites. In August to December dinoflagellate abundance decreased considerably. Most of the epiphytic dinoflagellates did not show any significant preference for a macrophyte substrate (23 macroalgal and 2 seagrass species) or for any species or major algal group, although the seagrass Thalassia testudinum appeared to be the most abundant and permanent host species. The highest abundance of P. lima occurred on the chlorophyte Ulva fasciata (30879 cells g–1) and T. testudinum (31467). Dinoflagellates were usually scarce on dead coral (Acropora sp. and Millepora alcicornis) fragments (0 to 5039 cells g–1) and surface bottom sediments (2 to 84), and were slightly more abundant on living Diploria strigosa (329 to 1830) and more numerous in a fringing reef zone compared to a reef lagoon near an offshore island. Dinoflagellate abundance was not correlated with any measured physical or chemical parameter (temperature, salinity, pH, dissolved oxygen, nitrates, nitrites, ammonium, phosphates, precipitation or wind speed and direction). There is a high potential for outbreaks of ciguatera in the studied area.

KEY WORDS:Dinophyceae · Benthic · Epiphytic · Seasonal changes · Coral reefs · Ciguatera · Gulf of Mexico · Mexico

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