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
  • Fabián A. Rodríguez-Zaragoza Departamento de Ecología, CUCBA. Universidad de Guadalajara
  • Carlos González-Salas Campus de Ciencias Biológicas y Agropecuarias, Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán
  • Marco Ortiz Instituto Antofagasta, Universidad de Antofagasta
  • Amílcar L. Cupul-Magaña Departamento de Ciencias Biológicas, CUCosta, Universidad de Guadalajara
  • Mehdi Adjeroud Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD)



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


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.


Download data is not yet available.


Acosta-González G., Rodríguez-Zaragoza F.A., Hernández-Landa R.C., et al. 2013. Additive Diversity Partitioning of Fish in a Caribbean Coral Reef Undergoing Shift Transition. Plos One 8: e65665. PMid:23776521 PMCid:PMC3679153

Adjeroud M., Letourneur Y., Porcher M., et al. 1998. Factors influencing spatial distribution of fish communities on a fringing reef at Mauritius, SW Indian Ocean. Environ. Biol. Fish. 53: 169-182.

Aguilar-Medrano R., Calderón-Aguilera L.E. 2015. Redundancy and diversity of functional reef fish groups of the Mexican Eastern Pacific. Mar. Ecol. 37: 119-133.

Allen G.R. 2007. Conservation hotspots of biodiversity and endemism for Indo-Pacific coral reef fishes. Aquat. Conserv. 18: 541-556.

Allen G.R., Robertson D.R. 1997. An annotated checklist of the fishes of Clipperton Atoll, tropical eastern Pacific. Rev. Biol. Trop. 45: 813-843.

Alvarez-Filip L., Gill J.A., Dulvy N.K. 2011. Complex reef architecture supports more small-bodied fishes and longer food chains on Caribbean reefs. Ecosphere 2: 1-17.

Anderson G.R.V., Ehrlich A.H., Ehrlich P.R., et al. 1981. The community structure of coral reef fishes. Am. Nat. 117: 476-495.

Anderson M.J., Gorley R.N., Clarke K.R. 2008. PERMANOVA+ Primer: Guide to Software and Statistical Methods. PRIMER-E Ltd, Plymouth, UK, 214 pp.

Arias-González J.E., Done T.J., Page C.A., et al. 2006. Towards a reefscape ecology: relating biomass and trophic structure of fish assemblages to habitat at Davies Reef, Australia. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 320: 29-41.

Arias-González J.E., Legendre P., Rodríguez-Zaragoza F.A. 2008. Scaling up beta diversity on Caribbean coral reefs. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 366: 28-36.

Arias-González J.E., Nu-ez-Lara E., Rodríguez-Zaragoza F.A., et al. 2011. Reefscape proxies for the conservation of Caribbean coral reef biodiversity. Cienc. Mar. 37: 87-96.

Ault T.R., Johnson C.R. 1998. Spatial variation in fish species richness on coral reefs: habitat fragmentation and stochastic structuring processes. Oikos 82: 354-364

Béarez P., Séret B. 2008. Les poissons de Clipperton. In: Charpy L. (ed), Clipperton: Environnement et Biodiversité d'un Microcosme Océanique. Patrimoines Naturels, Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle and IRD Éditions, Paris, pp. 143-154.

Cáceres I., Ortiz M., Cupul-Maga-a A.L., et al. 2015. Trophic models and short-term simulations for the coral reefs of Cayos Cochinos and Media Luna (Honduras): a comparative network analysis, ecosystem development, resilience, and fishery. Hydrobiologia 770: 209-224.

Carricart-Ganivet J.P., Reyes-Bonilla H. 1999. New and previous records of Scleractinian corals from Clipperton Atoll, Eastern Pacific. Pac. Sci. 53: 370-375.

Castro-Aguirre J.L., Balart E.F. 2002. La ictiofauna de las Islas Revillagigedo y sus relaciones zoogeográficas, con comentarios acerca de su origen y evolución. In: Lozano-Vilano M.L. (ed.), Libro jubilar en honor al Dr. Salvador Contreras Balderas. Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León, México, pp. 153-170.

Clarke K.R., Gorley R.N. 2006. Primer v6: User Manual/Tutorial. PRIMER-E Ltd., Plymouth, UK, 192 pp.

Chabanet P., Ralambondrainy H., Amanieu M., et al. 1997. Relationships between coral reef substrata and fish. Coral Reefs 16: 93-102.

Chittaro P.M. 2004. Fish-habitat associations across multiple spatial scales. Coral Reefs 23: 235-244.

Colwell R.K. 2013. EstimateS: statistical estimation of species richness and share species from samples. Version 9.1. Available on line at: University of Connecticut, Storrs, USA.

Dominici-Arosemena A., Wolff M. 2006. Reef fish community structure in the Tropical Eastern Pacific (Panamá): living in a relatively stable rocky reef environment. Helgol. Mar. Res. 60: 287-305.

Fourriére M., Reyes-Bonilla H., Rodríguez-Zaragoza F.A., et al. 2014. Fishes of Clipperton atoll, Eastern Pacific: checklist, endemism and analysis of completeness of the inventory. Pac. Sci. 68: 375-395.

Froese R., Pauly D. 2015. FishBase. World Wide Web electronic publication., version (02/2015).

Galzin R. 1987. Structure of fish communities of French Polynesian coral reefs. I. Spatial scales. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 41: 129-136.

Glynn P.W., Wellington G.M. 1983. Corals and Coral Reefs of the Galápagos Islands (with an Annotated List of the Scleractinian Corals of Galápagos by J.W. Wells). University of California Press, Berkeley, California, 330 pp.

Glynn P.W., Veron J.E.N., Wellington G.M. 1996. Clipperton Atoll (Eastern Pacific): oceanography, geomorphology, reef-building coral ecology and biogeography. Coral Reefs 15: 71-99.

Iglesias-Prieto R., Beltrán V.H., LaJeunesse T.C., et al. 2004. Different algal symbionts explain the vertical distribution of dominant reef corals in the eastern Pacific. Proc. Biol. Sci. 271: 1757-1763. PMid:15306298 PMCid:PMC1691786

Jackson J.B.C., Kirby M.X., Berger W.H., et al. 2001. Historical overfishing and the recent collapse of coastal ecosystems. Science 293: 629-638. PMid:11474098

Legendre P., Gallagher E.D. 2001. Ecologically meaningful transformations for ordination of species data. Oecologia 129: 271-280.

Mellin C., Andréfouët S., Kulbicki M., et al. 2008. Remote sensing and fish–habitat relationships in coral reef ecosystems: Review and pathways for systematic multi-scale hierarchical research. Mar. Pollut. Bull. 58: 11-19. PMid:19058817

Méndez E., Ruiz L.J., Prieto A., et al. 2006. Fish community of a fringing reef at Mochima National Park, Venezuela. Cienc. Mar. 32: 683-693.

Ohman M.C., Rajasuriya A. 1998. Relationship between habitat structure and fish communities on coral and sandstone reefs. Environ. Biol. Fishes 53: 19-31.

Roberts C.M., Ormond R.F. 1987. Habitat complexity and coral reef diversity and abundance on Red Sea fringing reefs. Mar. Ecol. Progr. Ser. 41: 1-8

Robertson D.R., Allen G.R. 1996. Zoogeography of the shorefish fauna of Clipperton Atoll. Coral Reefs 15: 121-131.

Robertson D.R., Allen G.R. 2015. Shorefishes of the Tropical Eastern Pacific online information system. Version 2.0 Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Balboa, Panamá. http://biogeodb.

Rodríguez-Zaragoza F.A., Arias-González J.E. 2015. Coral biodiversity and bio-construction in the northern sector of the mesoamerican reef system. Front. Mar. Sci. 2: (13): 1-3.

Rodríguez-Zaragoza F.A., Cupul-Maga-a A.L., Galván-Villa C.M., et al. 2011. Additive partitioning of reef fish diversity variation: a promising marine biodiversity management tool. Biodivers. Conserv. 20: 1655-1675.

Sale P.F. 1991. Introduction. In: Sale P.F. (ed.), The ecology of fishes on coral reefs. Academic Press, California USA, pp 3-15.

Salvat B., Adjeroud M., Charpy L. 2008. Les récifs coralliens de Clipperton. Rev. Ecol. Terre Vie. 63: 179-187.

ter Braak C.J.F., ?milauer P. 2002. CANOCO Reference Manual and CanoDraw for Windows User's Guide: Software for Canonical Community Ordination (version 4.5). Microcomputer Power, Ithaca NY, USA, 500 pp.

Veron J., Stafford-Smith M., DeVantier L., et al. 2015. Overview of distribution patterns of zooxanthellate Scleractinia. Front. Mar. Sci. 1: 81



How to Cite

Ricart AM, Rodríguez-Zaragoza FA, González-Salas C, Ortiz M, Cupul-Magaña AL, Adjeroud M. Coral reef fish assemblages at Clipperton Atoll (Eastern Tropical Pacific) and their relationship with coral cover. Sci. mar. [Internet]. 2016Dec.30 [cited 2024May26];80(4):479-86. Available from:




Most read articles by the same author(s)