Dataset Information


A meta-analysis to assess long-term spatiotemporal changes of benthic coral and macroalgae cover in the Mexican Caribbean.

ABSTRACT: Coral reefs in the wider Caribbean declined in hard coral cover by ~80% since the 1970s, but spatiotemporal analyses for sub-regions are lacking. Here, we explored benthic change patterns in the Mexican Caribbean reefs through meta-analysis between 1978 and 2016 including 125 coral reef sites. Findings revealed that hard coral cover decreased from ~26% in the 1970s to 16% in 2016, whereas macroalgae cover increased to ~30% in 2016. Both groups showed high spatiotemporal variability. Hard coral cover declined in total by 12% from 1978 to 2004 but increased again by 5% between 2005 and 2016 indicating some coral recovery after the 2005 mass bleaching event and hurricane impacts. In 2016, more than 80% of studied reefs were dominated by macroalgae, while only 15% were dominated by hard corals. This stands in contrast to 1978 when all reef sites surveyed were dominated by hard corals. This study is among the first within the Caribbean region that reports local recovery in coral cover in the Caribbean, while other Caribbean reefs have failed to recover. Most Mexican Caribbean coral reefs are now no longer dominated by hard corals. In order to prevent further reef degradation, viable and reliable conservation alternatives are required.

PROVIDER: S-EPMC7264131 | BioStudies |

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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