|Joicye Hernández-Zulueta, Fabián A. Rodríguez-Zaragoza, Rubén Araya, Ofelia Vargas-Ponce, Alma P. Rodríguez-Troncoso, Amílcar L. Cupul-Magaña, Leopoldo Díaz-Pérez, Eduardo Ríos-Jara, Marco Ortiz
The Mexican Central Pacific is located in a zone of oceanographic transition between two biogeographic provinces with particular conditions that affect the associated fauna. The objective of this study was to evaluate the variation of hermatypic coral assemblages in this region and to determine their relationship with the heterogeneity of the benthonic habitat and spatial variables. A total of 156 transects were carried out at 41 sites in the years 2010 and 2011. The sampling effort returned 96.7% of the coral richness expected for the area, with a total of 15 species recorded. The results showed that richness, diversity and cover of corals varied only at the site and state scales. However, the composition and coverage of all coral species, as well as the benthonic habitat structure, differed significantly across the study scales (i.e. sites, zones and states). Canonical redundancy analysis showed that variation in the richness, diversity and assemblages of corals was explained by the cover of live corals, articulated calcareous algae, sandy substrate, sponges and fleshy macroalgae. This study suggests that local scale (i.e. site) variation in the coral assemblages of the Mexican Central Pacific is the result of the heterogeneity of the benthonic habitat, while geomorphological and oceanographic characteristics play a greater role at regional scale.