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Five main indicators described 88% of the differences among reefs: higher piscivore and carnivore biomass; abundances of zooplankitovores, sea stars, and sea urchin; average commercial macro-invertebrates size; and habitat complexity.
AUTHORS: Aburto-Oropeza, O., Ezcurra, E., Moxley, J., Sánchez-Rodríguez, A., Mascarenas-Osorio, I., Sánchez-Ortiz, C., Erisman, B. and Ricketts, T.
To gauge the health of rocky reefs, the GCMP developed an index to characterize reefs in the Gulf of California. Over 140 reefs were evaluated through underwater visual transects (SCUBA). Five main indicators described 88% of the differences among reefs: higher piscivore and carnivore biomass and lower abundances of zooplankitovores, sea stars, and sea urchins indicated healthier reefs; average commercial macro-invertebrates size increased with the index number (healthier); and complex habitats tended to have higher total fish biomass.
This study launched a tangible way of understand reef health and has been a cornerstone in reef research and conservation. It provided a reference point for ecological tracking of the region and established a baseline of the local ecology.