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Marine biodiversity in the Caribbean: regional estimates and distribution patterns.

Miloslavich P, Díaz JM, Klein E, Alvarado JJ, Díaz C, Gobin J, Escobar-Briones E, Cruz-Motta JJ, Weil E, Cortés J, Bastidas AC, Robertson R, Zapata F, Martín A, Castillo J, Kazandjian A, Ortiz M - PLoS ONE (2010)

Bottom Line: Additionally, we found that the currently accepted classification of marine ecoregions of the Caribbean did not apply for the benthic distributions of five relatively well known taxonomic groups.Coastal species richness tends to concentrate along the Antillean arc (Cuba to the southernmost Antilles) and the northern coast of South America (Venezuela-Colombia), while no pattern can be observed in the deep sea with the available data.Several factors make it impossible to determine the extent to which these distribution patterns accurately reflect the true situation for marine biodiversity in general: (1) highly localized concentrations of collecting effort and a lack of collecting in many areas and ecosystems, (2) high variability among collecting methods, (3) limited taxonomic expertise for many groups, and (4) differing levels of activity in the study of different taxa.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Departamento de Estudios Ambientales, Universidad Simón Bolívar, Caracas, Venezuela. pmilos@usb.ve

ABSTRACT
This paper provides an analysis of the distribution patterns of marine biodiversity and summarizes the major activities of the Census of Marine Life program in the Caribbean region. The coastal Caribbean region is a large marine ecosystem (LME) characterized by coral reefs, mangroves, and seagrasses, but including other environments, such as sandy beaches and rocky shores. These tropical ecosystems incorporate a high diversity of associated flora and fauna, and the nations that border the Caribbean collectively encompass a major global marine biodiversity hot spot. We analyze the state of knowledge of marine biodiversity based on the geographic distribution of georeferenced species records and regional taxonomic lists. A total of 12,046 marine species are reported in this paper for the Caribbean region. These include representatives from 31 animal phyla, two plant phyla, one group of Chromista, and three groups of Protoctista. Sampling effort has been greatest in shallow, nearshore waters, where there is relatively good coverage of species records; offshore and deep environments have been less studied. Additionally, we found that the currently accepted classification of marine ecoregions of the Caribbean did not apply for the benthic distributions of five relatively well known taxonomic groups. Coastal species richness tends to concentrate along the Antillean arc (Cuba to the southernmost Antilles) and the northern coast of South America (Venezuela-Colombia), while no pattern can be observed in the deep sea with the available data. Several factors make it impossible to determine the extent to which these distribution patterns accurately reflect the true situation for marine biodiversity in general: (1) highly localized concentrations of collecting effort and a lack of collecting in many areas and ecosystems, (2) high variability among collecting methods, (3) limited taxonomic expertise for many groups, and (4) differing levels of activity in the study of different taxa.

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Bathymetry, main currents, and ecosystems of the Caribbean Sea.Arrows representing average surface ocean currents were derived from the Hybrid Coordinate Ocean Model, or HYCOM (http://hycom.org). Coral reef data were obtained from the World Resources Institute (http://www.wri.org/publication/reefs-risk-caribbean). Data on seagrasses were extracted from version 2.0 of the global polygon and point dataset compiled by UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC), 2005. Mangrove data were extracted from version 3.0 of the global polygon dataset compiled by UNEP-WCMC in collaboration with the International Society for Mangrove Ecosystems (ISME), 1997.
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pone-0011916-g001: Bathymetry, main currents, and ecosystems of the Caribbean Sea.Arrows representing average surface ocean currents were derived from the Hybrid Coordinate Ocean Model, or HYCOM (http://hycom.org). Coral reef data were obtained from the World Resources Institute (http://www.wri.org/publication/reefs-risk-caribbean). Data on seagrasses were extracted from version 2.0 of the global polygon and point dataset compiled by UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC), 2005. Mangrove data were extracted from version 3.0 of the global polygon dataset compiled by UNEP-WCMC in collaboration with the International Society for Mangrove Ecosystems (ISME), 1997.

Mentions: The Caribbean Sea is a semienclosed basin of the western Atlantic Ocean, bounded by the coasts of Central and South America on two sides and by the Antilles island chain on the other two (Figure 1). It has an area of about 2,754,000 km2, a volume of nearly 6.5×106 km3, and over 13,500 km of coastline, and is home to 26 countries as well as 19 dependent territories of France, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Toward the east and northeast, the closely spaced chain of islands, banks, and sills of the Antilles Islands arc separates the Caribbean from the Atlantic Ocean and acts as a sieve for the inflow of Atlantic water [1], whereas toward the northwest the Caribbean is linked to the Gulf of Mexico by the Yucatan Channel. The Caribbean seafloor is divided into five basins (Grenada, Venezuela, Colombia, and Yucatan Basins and the Cayman Trough) separated from each other by underwater ridges and sills. Half of the waters in the Caribbean are deeper than 3,600 m, and 75% are deeper than 1,800 m [2]. The average seafloor depth is about 2,400 m, while the Cayman Trough, between Cuba and Jamaica, reaches more than 7,500 m [3]. Volcanic activity and earthquakes are common in the Caribbean, as are destructive hurricanes, most of which originate in the central Atlantic.


Marine biodiversity in the Caribbean: regional estimates and distribution patterns.

Miloslavich P, Díaz JM, Klein E, Alvarado JJ, Díaz C, Gobin J, Escobar-Briones E, Cruz-Motta JJ, Weil E, Cortés J, Bastidas AC, Robertson R, Zapata F, Martín A, Castillo J, Kazandjian A, Ortiz M - PLoS ONE (2010)

Bathymetry, main currents, and ecosystems of the Caribbean Sea.Arrows representing average surface ocean currents were derived from the Hybrid Coordinate Ocean Model, or HYCOM (http://hycom.org). Coral reef data were obtained from the World Resources Institute (http://www.wri.org/publication/reefs-risk-caribbean). Data on seagrasses were extracted from version 2.0 of the global polygon and point dataset compiled by UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC), 2005. Mangrove data were extracted from version 3.0 of the global polygon dataset compiled by UNEP-WCMC in collaboration with the International Society for Mangrove Ecosystems (ISME), 1997.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC2914069&req=5

pone-0011916-g001: Bathymetry, main currents, and ecosystems of the Caribbean Sea.Arrows representing average surface ocean currents were derived from the Hybrid Coordinate Ocean Model, or HYCOM (http://hycom.org). Coral reef data were obtained from the World Resources Institute (http://www.wri.org/publication/reefs-risk-caribbean). Data on seagrasses were extracted from version 2.0 of the global polygon and point dataset compiled by UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC), 2005. Mangrove data were extracted from version 3.0 of the global polygon dataset compiled by UNEP-WCMC in collaboration with the International Society for Mangrove Ecosystems (ISME), 1997.
Mentions: The Caribbean Sea is a semienclosed basin of the western Atlantic Ocean, bounded by the coasts of Central and South America on two sides and by the Antilles island chain on the other two (Figure 1). It has an area of about 2,754,000 km2, a volume of nearly 6.5×106 km3, and over 13,500 km of coastline, and is home to 26 countries as well as 19 dependent territories of France, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Toward the east and northeast, the closely spaced chain of islands, banks, and sills of the Antilles Islands arc separates the Caribbean from the Atlantic Ocean and acts as a sieve for the inflow of Atlantic water [1], whereas toward the northwest the Caribbean is linked to the Gulf of Mexico by the Yucatan Channel. The Caribbean seafloor is divided into five basins (Grenada, Venezuela, Colombia, and Yucatan Basins and the Cayman Trough) separated from each other by underwater ridges and sills. Half of the waters in the Caribbean are deeper than 3,600 m, and 75% are deeper than 1,800 m [2]. The average seafloor depth is about 2,400 m, while the Cayman Trough, between Cuba and Jamaica, reaches more than 7,500 m [3]. Volcanic activity and earthquakes are common in the Caribbean, as are destructive hurricanes, most of which originate in the central Atlantic.

Bottom Line: Additionally, we found that the currently accepted classification of marine ecoregions of the Caribbean did not apply for the benthic distributions of five relatively well known taxonomic groups.Coastal species richness tends to concentrate along the Antillean arc (Cuba to the southernmost Antilles) and the northern coast of South America (Venezuela-Colombia), while no pattern can be observed in the deep sea with the available data.Several factors make it impossible to determine the extent to which these distribution patterns accurately reflect the true situation for marine biodiversity in general: (1) highly localized concentrations of collecting effort and a lack of collecting in many areas and ecosystems, (2) high variability among collecting methods, (3) limited taxonomic expertise for many groups, and (4) differing levels of activity in the study of different taxa.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Departamento de Estudios Ambientales, Universidad Simón Bolívar, Caracas, Venezuela. pmilos@usb.ve

ABSTRACT
This paper provides an analysis of the distribution patterns of marine biodiversity and summarizes the major activities of the Census of Marine Life program in the Caribbean region. The coastal Caribbean region is a large marine ecosystem (LME) characterized by coral reefs, mangroves, and seagrasses, but including other environments, such as sandy beaches and rocky shores. These tropical ecosystems incorporate a high diversity of associated flora and fauna, and the nations that border the Caribbean collectively encompass a major global marine biodiversity hot spot. We analyze the state of knowledge of marine biodiversity based on the geographic distribution of georeferenced species records and regional taxonomic lists. A total of 12,046 marine species are reported in this paper for the Caribbean region. These include representatives from 31 animal phyla, two plant phyla, one group of Chromista, and three groups of Protoctista. Sampling effort has been greatest in shallow, nearshore waters, where there is relatively good coverage of species records; offshore and deep environments have been less studied. Additionally, we found that the currently accepted classification of marine ecoregions of the Caribbean did not apply for the benthic distributions of five relatively well known taxonomic groups. Coastal species richness tends to concentrate along the Antillean arc (Cuba to the southernmost Antilles) and the northern coast of South America (Venezuela-Colombia), while no pattern can be observed in the deep sea with the available data. Several factors make it impossible to determine the extent to which these distribution patterns accurately reflect the true situation for marine biodiversity in general: (1) highly localized concentrations of collecting effort and a lack of collecting in many areas and ecosystems, (2) high variability among collecting methods, (3) limited taxonomic expertise for many groups, and (4) differing levels of activity in the study of different taxa.

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Related in: MedlinePlus