A preliminary evaluation of shallow-water rhodolith beds in Bahia Magdalena, Mexico

  • Enrique Ávila Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México; Instituto de Ciencias Del Mar y Limnología; Estación El Carmen
  • Rafael Riosmena-Rodriguez Universidad Autónoma de Baja California Sur; Departamento de Biología Marina; Programa de Investigación en Botánica Marina
Keywords: Rhodolith beds, Lithophyllum margaritae, distribution, Bahia Magdalena, Baja California, México


The aim of the present study was to describe the structure of shallow-water rhodolith beds from Bahia Magdalena, one of the most productive estuarine systems of the Mexican Pacific coasts. From September 2008 to May 2009 four rhodolith beds were found (between 1 and 3 m depth) and population descriptors such as rhodolith density, size classes, branch density, volume and weight were determined. The dominant rhodolith forming species was Lithophyllum margaritae. The size of beds ranged from 7,600 to 17,800 m2 approximately with densities from 42.2 to 215.9 ind.m-2. In these beds, L. margaritae shows fruticose and foliose growth forms, from which spherical forms were predominant (81-99%). Branch density (from 3.0 to 13.3 branches.cm-2) varied significantly (p < 0.05) among beds. The average volume (from 2.0 to 400 mL) and wet weight (from 32.4 to 84.8 g) was not significantly different among sites, but a significant positive correlation (r = 0.95, p < 0.05) was found between these parameters. The size of plants ranged from 2.0 to 11.5 cm with predominant size classes of 40.1-60 mm. Differences in rhodolith density, branch density and sphericity were attributed to possible differences in hydrodynamic conditions among sites. These beds were also a suitable habitat for high diversity of associated sponges. A non-metric multidimensional scaling (MDS) analysis using sponge species data revealed variability in the distribution of sponge assemblages among sites, which is likely the result of differences in environmental conditions. Although these rhodolith beds are not as extensive as those of other regions, our preliminary surveys revealed that they are a common habitat in Bahía Magdalena and likely have an important role in the productivity of this estuarine system.


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How to Cite
Ávila, E., & Riosmena-Rodriguez, R. (2011). A preliminary evaluation of shallow-water rhodolith beds in Bahia Magdalena, Mexico. Brazilian Journal of Oceanography, 59(4), 365-375. https://doi.org/10.1590/S1679-87592011000400007