Scientia Marina, Vol 80, No 4 (2016)

Coral reef fish assemblages at Clipperton Atoll (Eastern Tropical Pacific) and their relationship with coral cover

Aurora M. Ricart
Departament d’Ecologia, Facultat de Biologia, Universitat de Barcelona , Spain

Fabián A. Rodríguez-Zaragoza
Departamento de Ecología, CUCBA. Universidad de Guadalajara , Mexico

Carlos González-Salas
Campus de Ciencias Biológicas y Agropecuarias, Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán , Mexico

Marco Ortiz
Instituto Antofagasta, Universidad de Antofagasta , Chile

Amílcar L. Cupul-Magaña
Departamento de Ciencias Biológicas, CUCosta, Universidad de Guadalajara , Mexico

Mehdi Adjeroud
Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD) , France


Clipperton Atoll, one of the most isolated coral reefs worldwide, is of great scientific interest due to its geomorphology and high levels of endemism. This study explored the reef fish assemblage structure of Clipperton Atoll and its relationship with live coral cover. Nine stations were sampled at three sites and three depths (6, 12 and 20 m) around the reef, measuring fish species richness and biomass and hermatypic coral cover (at genus level). We evaluated variation in species richness, biomass and diversity of fish assemblages among sites and depths, as well as the relationship between the entire fish assemblage composition and live coral cover. The results showed that species richness and biomass were similar among sites, but differed across depths, increasing with depth. In contrast, diversity differed among sites but not among depths. Multivariate analyses indicated that fish assemblage composition differed among sites and depths in relation to changes in cover of coral of the genera Pocillopora, Porites, Pavona and Leptoseris, which dominate at different depths. The results showed that fish species richness and diversity were low at Clipperton Atoll and that, in isolated coral reefs with a low habitat heterogeneity and low human disturbance, live coral cover has a significant influence on the spatial variation of the reef fish assemblages. This study highlights the importance of coral habitat structure in shaping coral reef fish assemblages.


species-habitat interaction; reef fish diversity; spatial variation; habitat structure

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