Impact of hurricanes Emily and Wilma on the coral community of cozumel Island, Mexico

Lorenzo Alvarez-Filip, Marinés Millet-Encalada, Héctor Reyes-Bonilla

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27 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In 2005, the Mexican Caribbean was impacted by two powerful hurricanes: Emily (July) and Wilma (October). This study assessed the immediate damage caused by these events on the coral community in the Marine Protected Area of Cozumel. Six reefs were evaluated during three time periods: before the hurricanes, after Emily, and after Wilma. In each reef, six transects were surveyed to determine the cover of corals. The results indicate a cumulative decline of 56% in live coral cover after both hurricanes had struck. At the generic level, chi-square statistics revealed a uniform reduction in the percent cover of the different coral genera. Standard ecological indices indicated no major modifications in community structure; however, the taxonomic distinctness and ordination analysis revealed a directional change to an increasingly more homogeneous composition of species after each impact. The present study reveals a significant decrease in live coral cover and gradual modifications in composition of assemblages after the hurricanes, but paradoxically, there were no major modifications in community structure. © 2009 Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science of the University of Miami.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)295-306
Number of pages12
JournalBulletin of Marine Science
Volume84
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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