The distribution of marine algae in a coastal lagoon, northern Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico

Ileana Ortegón-Aznar, Isabel Sánchez-Molina, Rodolfo H. Casanova Cetz


This paper presents the first phycofl oristic study carried out on the coastal lagoon of Chelem, Yucatan, Mexico. Eight sampling sites at three different seasons (dry, rainy and Nortes) allowed us to record 54 taxa of marine algae (35 species of Rhodophyceae, 18 Chlorophyceae and one Phaeophyceae), registered for the first time in this area. Rhodomelaceae is the best represented family, with 19 species. An analysis of PCA of environmental factors and species distribution showed that the Chelem Lagoon may be divided into three zones: inner, middle and outer zones. Temporally, the highest algal diversity (38 spp.) was found in the dry season and the lowest during the “Nortes” (winter) season (28 spp.). Spatially, the highest diversity was found at the outer zone of the lagoon (25 spp.), while the lowest was at the middle zone (13 spp.). The outer zone experiences a major influence of the sea, whereas both the inner and middle zones have brackish waters. The bottom had more species than the mangrove. Jaccard analyses were used to compare sites and seasons and show no similarity between zones and seasons. The distribution pattern in space and time was primarily determined by the salinity because this was the environmental factor that presented the highest variations between zones. The class Rhodophyceae has the largest number of species and dominate over Chlorophyceae and Phaeophyceae in time and space, this is because of the high number of epiphyte algae. Regardless of the distribution and occurrence, the most common species over time was Cladophoropsis macromeres. At least two species [Ceramium brevizonatum var. caraibicum H.E. Petersen and Børgesen and Chondria capillaris (Hudson) M.J. Wynne] represent new records for the State of Yucatan.

Key words: marine algae, distribution, seasonality, coastal lagoon, Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico.

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