Authors: R. Aguilar-Medrano y M. E. Vega-Cendejas
The Campeche Bank and Yucatan Peninsula coastal-wetland ecosystem (CYCWE) comprises marine, brackish, and freshwater communities. Two biogeographic regions converge on its coast, the subtropical and the Caribbean. Coastal environments are experiencing degradation by local and global factors, a first approach for their protection is to know their inhabitants and define their distribution. In this study, the CYCWE ichthyofauna was analyzed (1) to determine if the defined biogeographic regions influence its distribution, (2) to establish ichthyological sections, and (3) to analyze the ecological and conservation status of the ichthyofauna in each section. The CYCWE presents a dynamic and connected community of 703 species segregated into 11 ichthyological sections (S). The biogeographic regions affect the distribution of coastal and oceanic ichthyofauna, where three coastal sections, S2, S8, and S3 in Campeche and Yucatan belong to the subtropical region, and S1 located mainly on the coast of Quintana Roo, but it extends following the reef formations, including the three states, belongs to the Caribbean region. A similar pattern was not observed for the brackish and freshwater fish communities. The paleogeographic development of the Yucatan Peninsula and the dispersal of the species along the Gulf slope shaped the current brackish and freshwater diversity, producing a differentiated ichthyofauna to the north (S7, S9, and S10) in Yucatan, south (S11) in Campeche and (S4) Quintana Roo, and northeast (S5 and S6) in Quintana Roo. Local threats to the CYCWE are urban developments, lack of ecological information of the species populations, a significant number of species in the IUCN vulnerable, endangered, and critically endangered categories, and introduced and invasive species. Collaborations between researchers and institutions are needed to jointly focus on least studied, endangered, and non-native species, as well as urban development plans made from a holistic perspective to reduce the stress over the environment.
Keywords: Gulf of Mexico, Yucatan Peninsula, Ichthyological section, Urban development, Species conservation