Spatiotemporal Variability in Fish Assemblages in a Coastal and Estuarine System in the Tropical Eastern Pacific during the AnthropauseYareli Hernández-Álvarez, Georgina Ramírez-Ortiz, Francisco Flores-de-Santiago, Felipe Amezcua-Linares, Victor Muro-Torres, Daniel Arceo-Carranza, Felipe Amezcua
- Nature and Landscape Conservation
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
- Ecological Modeling
Differences in fish assemblages’ composition and their relationship with the environmental variables were analyzed in the Urías estuarine system, Mexican North Pacific. Environmental variables and fish catches were recorded bimonthly between June 2018 and November 2021, including a period before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. Multivariate analyses were performed in the studied area to define zones based on their environmental, biotic, and abiotic characteristics and the effect of these on the fish assemblages. Two zones were identified, an estuarine with mangrove forest and a surf zone in the coastal area outside the estuarine system. Fish composition, biomass, and diversity (α and β) were evaluated among the factors of the period (before–during COVID-19), climatic seasons, and zones. A total of 5947 fish individuals of 41 species were collected using beach seines as fishing gear. The structure of the fish assemblages was different between zones and periods. Abiotic (temperature, salinity, and total matter suspended), biotic (mangrove area), and temporal (season and period before–during COVID-19) variables had an effect on fish biomass and α diversity, while the results of the β diversity only indicate changes in the nestedness component before–during the lockdown. These results indicate a change in fish assemblages’ structure and composition between periods, which might be a consequence of the limitation of human activities derived from the pandemic, climatic changes, or a combination of both effects. Our results show that fish assemblages in the estuarine systems of the Tropical Eastern Pacific are unique, and there is a need to establish local management strategies for these ecosystems.