Alternate Title

Occurrence of Larval and Juvenile Fish in Mangrove Habitats in the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve, Quintana Roo, Mexico

Document Type

Short Communication


Mangrove forests are ubiquitous in low lying coastal areas of tropical and subtropical zones of the world, including the lagoons of the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, Quintana Roo, Mexico. Mangroves are habitat for juvenile fish of both oceanic and estuarine origin (Vásquez-Yoemans 1992, Vásquez-Yoemans et al. 1992, Laegdsgaard and Johnson 1995). Development of the Caribbean coast of Mexico north and south of the Sian Ka’an Reserve is in large part focused on tourism-related endeavors such as destination resorts, scuba diving and fishing. While some of the development is innocuous, land acquisition for development of resorts has fragmented mangrove habitats in the region and likely altered their function. It has been shown in other mangrove estuaries that habitat fragmentation negatively impacts fish assemblages (Layman et al. 2004). Because of the importance of mangrove estuaries as juvenile fish habitat, loss of mangrove habitat may result in noticeable effects on adult recruitment to fisheries in tropical regions. Very little is known about the composition of larval and juvenile fish communities within the reserve.

Ichthyofaunal surveys of mangrove-lined estuaries worldwide have shown broadly similar taxonomic composition, including Eleotridae (sleepers), Gerreidae (mojarras), Mugilidae (mullets), Poeciliidae (livebearers), Gobiidae (gobies), Clupeidae (herrings) and Belonidae (needlefish) (Austin 1971, Blaber et al. 1989, Wright 1986, Thayer et al. 1987, Yáñez-Arancibia et al. 1988, Chong et al. 1990, Vásquez-Yoemans 1992; Vásquez-Yoemans and González 1992). In this research, we describe the juvenile fish community of two connected mangrove lagoons within the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve at the end of the dry season (May).

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