Coral reefs of Huatulco, West México: Reef development in upwelling Gulf of Tehuantepec

Peter W. Glynn, Gerardo E. Leyte Morales

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Abstract

Numerous pocilloporid coral reefs occur along the 26 km coastline of Huatulco, Gulf of Tehuantepec, México. Twelve species of zooxanthellate corals belonging to four genera (Pocillopora, Pavona, Porites, Psammocora) are present in this area with three species of pocilloporid corals largely responsible for reef framework construction. Seventeen fringing reefs, with mean depths ranging from 2 to 14 m, displayed maximum, horizontal framework dimensions ranging from 58 × 85 m (width × length) to 283 × 355 m. Reef topographic profiles suggest that vertical framework buildups range from about 1 to 5 m. Most reef development occurs in bays or along protected shores with hillocky or gently sloping pocilloporid frameworks. At some exposed sites, 2-3 m high surge channels dissect seaward-facing reef slopes. Sudden cooling of nearshore waters, from 24°C to 20°C, was detected at the reef base (8 m) on a Huatulco reef in February 1996, during the usual upwelling season (November-April) in the Gulf of Tehuantepec. Three of 17 reefs were dead, largely in an erosional state and with high population densities of Diadema mexicanum. Sexual recruits of Pavona gigantea were abundant at the seaward reef bases of some dead reefs. These colonies, dominantly 5 to 8 cm high, probably began to settle in 1989 and later, possibly in response to newly-created substrates following widespread coral mortality during the 1987 El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) event.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1033-1047
Number of pages15
JournalRevista de Biologia Tropical
Volume45
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 1997

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Keywords

  • Coral reefs
  • El Niño-Southern Oscillation
  • Mexican Pacific
  • Upwelling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

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