Alternate Title

A Survey of the Reef-Related Medusa (Cnidaria) Community in the Western Caribbean Sea

Document Type



The species composition, distribution, and abundance of medusae collected during a 4-day plankton survey in a reef system of the Mexican Caribbean were studied. Highest mean medusae abundance was observed over the fore-reef zone and in daytime samples. Lowest abundances occurred in the reef lagoon and at dusk. Seventeen species were identified, with Liriope tetraphylla, Aglaura hemistoma, Cubaia aphrodite, and Sarsia prolifera being the most abundant. They belong to a group of medusae dominant along the world's second largest barrier reef. Cluster analysis revealed primary (fore-reef) and secondary (reef lagoon, channel) oceanic groups, showing the strong oceanic influence along and across the reef system. Day-to-day variation in the reef medusan community seemed relatively unimportant. The community structure of the reef medusa fauna appeared to be quite uniform despite the expected migratory behavior of these predators, tidal exchange across the reef, introduction of oceanic species, and time of day. The species composition was most closely related to that of the Campeche Bank and oceanic Caribbean waters. Dominance of oceanic medusae within the reef lagoon was attributed to the narrowness of the continental shelf and the mesoscale hydrological features of the zone.

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