Abstract

Coastal development and urbanization have increased the sediments that are washed from the land surface, producing adverse effects on the structure and functioning of coral reefs. The objective of this study was to identify the degree to which excessive sediments have disturbed the fish community in the coral reefs in the Maguey and Violin bays, located in the Huatulco National Park (Mexico). Fish samples were collected before and after disturbances produced by sediments associated with coastal development projects. Indicators of changes in the fish communities included the number and diversity of species as well as equity and dominance before and after the disturbances. The analysis was performed through means comparison tests, similarity analysis (ANOSIM) and similarity percentage analysis (SIMPER). In both locations, it was observed that the diversity, evenness, abundance and number of species were higher prior to the disturbance, but not for dominance, which shows an inverse pattern. In Maguey, significant differences in evenness and dominance were observed (U = 28, p = 0.0401; U = 24, p = 0.0472), as well as in species composition and abundance (ANOSIM = 0.35, p = 0.009). The similarity percentage analysis (SIMPER) indicated that after the disturbance, more than 46 % of the species showed decreases in average abundance, highlighting the absence of Prionurus laticlavius, as well as the decrease in abundance of: P. punctatus, Cirrhitichthys oxycephalus, Microspathodon dorsalis, Lutjanus novemfaciatus and Stegates acapulcoensis. Inadequate planning and implementation of coastal development projects that contribute to the discharge of excessive sediments into the sea were determinants of negative changes in the coral communities in Maguey and Violin, whose effects could be seen in the composition of the species and the abundance, equity, and dominance of the fish community in Maguey.