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Rev. biol. mar. oceanogr. 51(1): 21-31



Relationship between zooplankton biomass and continental water discharges in the southern Gulf of Mexico (1984-2001)

Faustino Zavala-García1, Cesar Flores-Coto1 and María de la Luz Espinosa-Fuentes1

1Laboratorio de Zooplancton, Instituto de Ciencias del Mar y Limnología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, A.P. 70-305, 04510 México, D.F., México

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The southwestern Gulf of California has high-value commercial fisheries; however, there are few studies of the taxonomic diversity of fish in this area. Surveys of taxonomic diversity of the fish assemblage at 8 localities near the shore of Bahía de La Paz were undertaken from March 2002 to April 2003. Seasonal changes in diversity of rocky reef fish were analyzed, including taxonomic distance among fish species, using the alpha, alpha average, beta, and gamma diversity indices, the taxonomic distinctness index (TD D*), and the average taxonomic distinctness index (AvTD D+). Submarine visual censuses were carried out along 48 transects measuring 100 × 5 m (500 m2) at 5 m average depth from 09:00-16:00 h. Two seasons were studied: winter with an average temperature of 22.57°C, and summer with an average temperature of 27.09°C. 24,633 fishes, belonging to 92 species and 67 genera were recorded. According to the alpha average, beta, and gamma diversity indices, August had the highest diversity (19.5, 40.5, and 60 species, respectively), and December had the lowest diversity (20.6, 27.4, and 48 species, respectively). Spatial analysis of TD and AvTD were not significantly different, and analysis by season of these indices was not significant different. Greater anthropogenic impact would cause differences in TD and AvTD found at El Guano compared with other locations.
Zooplankton biomass is recognized as an important indicator of secondary production, its spatial and temporal variation in neritic zones is particularly affected by discharges of the rivers, and the spatial-temporal effect of continental water discharges on the distribution of zooplankton biomass in the southern Gulf of Mexico was analyzed for 5 areas off the coasts of Veracruz, Tabasco and Campeche. The analyzed material was obtained from 534 samples collected during different climatic seasons from 1984 to 2001. The discharge volumes of 5 hydrological regions were obtained from the government’s data base. The results obtained indicated that biomass variation throughout the seasons in the different areas was very similar to the pattern of discharges. The greater biomass values were recorded off Tabasco and the lower values off Veracruz, where the greater and lower continental water discharges were recorded respectively. Biomass variation depended on the discharges, not only in terms of an annual cycle, but was also directly related to the volumes discharged into the ocean. A Tree analysis made it possible to conclude that biomass is always low on the outer shelf and oceanic region of the southern Gulf of Mexico, independently of the season of the year or of a particular area. A greater biomass was recorded on the shallow shelf, with a magnitude that varied in relation to the area and season. The biomass off Campeche did not depend on the continental water discharges, but was generated on the Yucatán shelf. 

Key words:  Zooplankton biomass, Gulf of Mexico, continental water discharges, CART technique