In 1994 and 1995, 131 visual censuses of reef fishes were made using the stationary sampling method in Courtown, Albuquerque, Serrana and Roncador, four atolls of the Archipelago of San Andrés and Old Providence in the Southwestern Caribbean. Fish species and their abundances were recorded in four geomorphologic zones: lagoon, windward barrier reef, windward terrace and forereef terrace. A total of 98 species were censused; the most abundant were Chromis cyanea (14%), Clepticus parra (14%) and Stegastes partitus (10%). The most abundant families were Pomacentridae (37%), Labridae (28%) and Scaridae (10%). Analysis of similarities showed that differences between zones were greater than differences between atolls, but lagoon and forereef terrace were not significantly different. Cluster and ordination analysis confirmed these results; in addition, the ordination analysis placed the groups according to depth and wave-exposure gradients, suggesting that these two physical variables were responsibles for the clustering. Differences in equitability and species richness appear also due to these variables. Inverse analysis showed in each group few characteristic species, then the differences between zones were due specially to dominance of some species. The dominant trophic categories were planktivorous and herbivorous that were significantly different between zones. In shallow zones (shallow lagoonal patch reefs) and high wave-exposed zones (winward barrier reef) dominated herbivorous fishes, while in deeper zones (terraces and deep lagoonal patch reefs) planktivorous were more abundant.
Keywords: reef fishes, caribbean atolls, community structure, colombia, southwestern caribbean