Coastal and Marine Studies in Mexico – Dr. Nuno Simões

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    An Indo-Pacific damselfish (Neopomacentrus cyanomos) in the Gulf of Mexico: origin and mode of introduction
    (PeerJ, 2018-02-07) Robertson, D. Ross; Dominguez-Dominguez, Omar; Victor, Benjamin; Simões, Nuno
    The Indo-West Pacific (IWP) coral-reef damselfish Neopomacentrus cyanomos is well established across the south-west Gulf of Mexico (SwGoMx). Comparisons of mtDNA sequences of the SwGoMx population with those from conspecifics from 16 sites scattered across its native geographic range show that the SwGoMx population is derived from two of four native lineages: one from the north-west Pacific Ocean, the other from the northern Indian Ocean. Three hypotheses address how this species was introduced to the SwGoMX: (1) aquarium release; (2) borne by cargo-ship; and (3) carried by offshore petroleum platform (petro-platform). The first is unlikely because this species rarely features in the aquarium trade, and “N. cyanomos” traded to the USA from the sole IWP source we are aware of are a misidentified congener, N. taeniurus. The second hypothesis is unlikely because shipping has not been associated with the introduction of alien damselfishes, there is little international shipping between the IWP and the SwGoMx, and voyages between those areas would be lengthy and along environmentally unfavorable routes. Various lines of evidence support the third hypothesis: (i) bio-fouled petro-platforms represent artificial reefs that can sustain large and diverse populations of tropical reef-fishes, including N. cyanomos in the SwGoMx; (ii) relocation of such platforms has been implicated in trans-oceanic introductions leading to establishment of non-native populations of such fishes; and (iii) genetic characteristics of the SwGoMx population indicate that it was established by a large and diverse group of founders drawn from the IWP regions where many petro-platforms currently in the SwGoMx and other Atlantic offshore oilfields originated.
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    The Spotted Cleaner Shrimp, Periclimenes yucatanicus (Ives, 1891), on an Unusual Scleractinian Host
    (MDPI, 2019-11-12) González-Muñoz, Ricardo; Garese, Agustín; Acuña, Fabián Horacio; Reimer, James D.; Simões, Nuno
    The spotted cleaner shrimp, Periclimenes yucatanicus (Ives, 1891), forms symbioses with sea anemones that may serve as cleaning stations for reef fishes [1]. This Caribbean palaemonid shrimp has usually been reported in symbiotic association with several species of actiniarian hosts, such as Condylactis gigantea (Weinland, 1860) and Bartholomea annulata (Le Sueur, 1817), or even with some corallimorpharians and a scyphozoan jellyfish [2]. During a field survey at Alacranes coral reef (26 June 2016; 22°27.14’ N, 89°45.79’ W; 13 m depth) on the Campeche Bank, Yucatán Peninsula, México, two spotted shrimps were observed swimming and walking above the polyps of the head coral Montastraea cavernosa (Linnaeus, 1767). Because none of the usual hosts of P. yucatanicus were detected nearby, we hypothesize that the shrimps were using the scleractinian coral as a host. Some other shrimp species commonly associated with actiniarians were previously reported to be living on stony corals, such as Ancylomenes holthuisi (Bruce, 1969) on Heliofungia actiniformis (Quoy and Gaimard, 1833) in New Guinea [3], and Periclimenes rathbunae Schmitt, 1924 on Dendrogyra cylindrus Ehrenberg, 1834 in Curaçao [4]. The observation (see Figure 1) of Montastraea cavernosa hosting Periclimenes yucatanicus is the second report of a palaemonid shrimp in association with a scleractinian coral in the Atlantic Ocean. The ecological implications of this association are unknown but could be related to a low local availability of usual hosts.
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    Comparison of cnidae sizes between the two morphotypes of the giant Caribbean sea anemone Condylactis gigantea (Actiniaria: Actiniidae)
    (International Journal of Tropical Biology and Conservation, 2018-07-04) González Muñoz, Ricardo Enrique; Hernández-Ortiz, Carlos; Garese, Agustín; Simões, Nuno; Acuña, Fabián Horacio
    The sea anemone Condylactis gigantea is an ecologically important member of the benthic community in coral reefs of the tropical Atlantic, and displays two morphotypes with respect to the color in their tentacular tips: the green tip morphotype and the pink/purple tip morphotype. Although some molecular and ecological differences have been found between these morphotypes, no other morphological distinctions have been reported, and currently both are still considered a single taxonomic species. In the present study, we perform an exploration on the variability in the size of cnidae between these two morphotypes and performed statistical analyses to compare the 10 categories of cnidae from specimens hosted in the Cnidarian Collection of Gulf of Mexico and Mexican Caribbean, of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, which were previously collected in several coral reefs localities of the Yucatán Peninsula. Results reveal no significant variation in cnidae size between the two morphotypes, but significant variations were found within each morphotype. In addition, we update the composition of the cnidom of C. gigantea, and the utility of the size of cnidae to distinguish between morphotypes or closely related species is discussed.
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    Bivalve Diversity on the Continental Shelf and Deep Sea of the Perdido Fold Belt, Northwest Gulf of Mexico, Mexico
    (MDPI, 2021-04-12) Suárez-Mozo, Nancy Yolimar; Vidal-Martínez, Victor Manuel; Aguirre-Macedo, M. Leopoldina; Pech, Daniel; Guerra-Castro, Edlin; Simões, Nuno
    Mollusk diversity in coastal areas of the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) has been studied extensively, but this is not the case for deep-water habitats. We present the first quantitative characterization of mollusks in shallow and deep waters of the Perdido Fold Belt. The data came from two research cruises completed in 2017. Sediment samples were collected from 56 sites using a 0.25-m2 box corer. We tested hypotheses about spatial patterns of α, β, and γ-diversity of bivalves in two water-depth zones, the continental shelf (43–200 m) and bathyal zone (375–3563 m). A total of 301 bivalves belonging to 39 species were identified. The two zones display similar levels of γ-diversity, but host different bivalve assemblages. In general, α-diversity was higher on the continental shelf, whereas β-diversity was higher in the bathyal zone. These patterns can be explained by the higher input of carbon (energy) to the near-coast shelf zone, as well as by the greater topographic complexity of habitats in the bathyal zone. These results enabled us to propose redirection of sampling efforts for environmental characterization from continental zones to the deep-water zone, especially in the context of environmental assessments during oil and gas exploration and production.
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    Distribution patterns, carbon sources and niche partitioning in cave shrimps (Atyidae: Typhlatya)
    (Springer Nature, 2020-07-30) Chávez-Solís, E.M.; Solís, C.; Simões, Nuno; Mascaró, M.
    Cave shrimps of the Typhlatya genus are common and widespread in fresh, brackish and marine groundwater throughout the Yucatan Peninsula (Mexico). These species are ideal models to test niche partitioning within sympatric species in oligotrophic systems. Nevertheless, their food sources remain unidentified, and despite their frequency and functional importance, distribution and abundance patterns of these species within caves have not been fully recognized. Here, we describe the abundance of three Typhlatya species in different temporal and spatial scales, investigate changes in water conditions, and potential sources of carbon as an indication of food origin. Species composition and abundance varied markedly in space and time revealing patterns that differed from one system to another and in relation to environmental parameters. Isotope analysis showed that each species reflects a particular δ13C and Δ14C fingerprint, suggesting they feed in different proportions from the available carbon sources. Overall, our findings suggest a niche partitioning of habitat and feeding sources amongst the three Typhlatya species investigated, where environmental characteristics and physiological differences could play an important role governing their distribution patterns.
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    Marine amphipods (Parhyale hawaiensis) as an alternative feed for the lined seahorse (Hippocampus erectus, Perri 1810): nutritional value and feeding trial
    (PeerJ, 2021-10-19) Vargas-Abúndez, Jorge Arturo; Martínez-Moreno, Gemma Leticia; Simões, Nuno; Noreña-Barroso, Elsa; Mascaró, Maite
    Finding new alternatives to traditional live preys such as Artemia and rotifers, which do not always promote optimal fish growth and survival, is required for the successful aquaculture of highly specialized predatory species, including seahorses. The present study assessed the nutritional value of an interesting marine amphipod (Parhyale hawaiensis), and evaluates through a feeding trial its potential use as a natural prey for 10-months lined seahorse, Hippocampus erectus. P. hawaiensis showed high levels of valuable lipids (20.4–26.7% on dry matter basis) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) ( 26.4–41% of total FAs), including the long-chain PUFAs (LC-PUFAs) arachidonic acid (ARA) (2.9–7.7%), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) (4.3–6.5%) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) (2.1–6.2%). A comparison between wild-captured and cultured amphipods revealed a significant improvement of the amphipod FA profile in terms of DHA%, total omega-3 (n3) FAs and n3/n6 ratio when employing both a conventional amphipod culture based on a commercial shrimp diet, and, to a lesser extent, a large (3,500 L) biofloc system. Seahorses fed with frozen/wild amphipods, either singly or in combination with Artemia enriched with Super Selco® (INVE Aquaculture, Belgium) for 57 days, substantially improved seahorse growth and FA profiles in terms of ARA, EPA and DHA%, including indices associated to marine sources, such as Σn3 and n3/n6, compared to a diet based solely on enriched Artemia. These results support the use of marine amphipods as an alternative food organism for juvenile H. erectus and suggest a potential use for general marine aquaculture.
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    Updated Distribution of the Mysid Antromysis cenotensis (Crustacea: Peracarida), a Protected Key Species in Yucatan Peninsula Cenotes
    (MDPI, 2021-03-31) Liévano-Beltrán, Luis Arturo; Simões, Nuno
    We present 52 new geographic location records for the peracarid crustacean Antromysis cenotensis Creaser, 1936, endemic in cenotes of the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. This species is currently considered threatened and, therefore, is protected by Mexican law. These results arise from several expeditions carried out between 2017 and 2020 in 75 locations within the cenote-ring, the interior, and coastal plains of the peninsula. A comprehensive literature review provided 84 geographic location records since the species was described in 1936. A map with 136 geographic location records that better describe the current species distribution is also included. With this information, plus some notes on the ecology of the species, a comprehensive literature and data review, and a brief analysis regarding the possible factors associated with the confirmed absence of the species in some locations in the state of Yucatan, we provide a brief and condensed summary of the actual knowledge on this particular species. The data in Darwin Core format can be retrieved in Zenodo.
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    Depth-Dependent Genetic Structuring of a Depth-Generalist Coral and Its Symbiodiniaceae Algal Communities at Campeche Bank, Mexico
    (Frontiers in Marine Science, 2022-05-17) Sturm, Alexis B.; Eckert, Ryan J.; Carreiro, Ashley M.; Simões, Nuno; Voss, Joshua D.
    Depth-generalist coral holobionts inhabit shallow (0–30 m) and mesophotic (30–150 m) reef zones but may exhibit genetic specialization as a result of adaptations to environmental shifts and/or due to a lack of dispersal across depth. The level of depth-dependent genetic structuring varies across reef locations which may impact the roles mesophotic populations play in the persistence and recovery of metapopulations. A depth-generalist coral species, Montastraea cavernosa, was sampled across a shallow to mesophotic gradient at 10, 15, 25, and 35 m at Alacranes and Bajos del Norte reefs on Campeche Bank, Mexico. Both 2bRAD and ITS2 sequencing were used to quantify genetic differentiation of the coral hosts and community structure of their algal endosymbionts (Family Symbiodiniaceae) across depth zones and between these reefs. Significant levels of M. cavernosa genetic differentiation were identified across depth at both reefs, especially between the shallow (10, 15, and 25 m) and mesophotic (35 m) zones. While Symbiodiniaceae hosted by these corals were predominantly Cladocopium species, both depth and reef location were significant factors driving ITS2 type profiles found within each population. The magnitude of depth-dependent genetic structuring of both the coral and Symbiodiniaceae was much greater at Alacranes, relative to Bajos del Norte, suggesting that the refugia potential of mesophotic communities at Alacranes is limited. However, relatively high levels of horizontal coral connectivity between the two reefs, and Bajos del Norte’s location at the entrance to the Gulf of Mexico suggests that it may play an important role in the maintenance of the coral’s regional metapopulation and should be considered in future assessments of this species’ connectivity dynamics and management.
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    SSP: an R package to estimate sampling effort in studies of ecological communities
    (Wiley Online Library, 2021-03-31) Guerra-Castro, Edlin J.; Cajas, Juan Carlos; Simões, Nuno; Cruz-Motta, Juan J.; Mascaró, Maite
    SSP (simulation‐based sampling protocol) is an R package that uses simulations of ecological data and dissimilarity‐based multivariate standard error (MultSE) as an estimator of precision to evaluate the adequacy of different sampling efforts for studies that will test hypothesis using permutational multivariate analysis of variance. The procedure consists in simulating several extensive data matrixes that mimic some of the relevant ecological features of the community of interest using a pilot data set. For each simulated data, several sampling efforts are repeatedly executed and MultSE calculated. The mean value, 0.025 and 0.975 quantiles of MultSE for each sampling effort across all simulated data are then estimated and standardized regarding the lowest sampling effort. The optimal sampling effort is identified as that in which the increase in sampling effort does not improve the highest MultSE beyond a threshold value (e.g. 2.5%). The performance of SSP was validated using real data. In all three cases, the simulated data mimicked the real data and allowed to evaluate the relationship MultSE – n beyond the sampling size of the pilot studies. SSP can be used to estimate sample size in a wide variety of situations, ranging from simple (e.g. single site) to more complex (e.g. several sites for different habitats) experimental designs. The latter constitutes an important advantage in the context of multi‐scale studies in ecology. An online version of SSP is available for users without an R background.
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    Sponge-dwelling fauna: a review of known species from the Northwest Tropical Atlantic coral reefs
    (Pensoft Publishers, 2021-03-15) Pérez-Botello, Antar Mijail; Simões, Nuno
    Background Within tropical shallow-water coral reefs, marine sponges provide microhabitats for a wide range of fauna. Although there have been numerous studies and reports of symbiotic relationships amongst sponges and their associated fauna, those pieces of information are isolated and disconnected. For this reason, based on the available literature, we compiled a species-interaction dataset of coral reef marine sponge-associated fauna known to date. New information We introduce a dataset that includes 67 literature items that report 101 species of sponge hosts clustered in 12 Orders having a host/guest interaction with 284 guest species from six Phyla present in the Northwestern Tropical Atlantic coral reefs. This dataset consists of two types of information: 1. Machine-readable data and 2. Human-readable data. These two types of coding improve the scope of the dataset and facilitate the link between machine platforms and human-friendly displays. We also created an interactive visualisation of the species-interactions dataset and of a dynamic Chord Diagram of the host-guest species connections to generate a user-friendly link between the user and the dataset.
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    Marine amphipods as a new live prey for ornamental aquaculture: exploring the potential of Parhyale hawaiensis and Elasmopus pectenicrus
    (PeerJ, 2021-02-10) Vargas-Abúndez, Jorge Arturo; López-Vázquez, Humberto Ivan; Mascaró, Maite; Martínez-Moreno, Gemma Leticia; Simões, Nuno
    Marine amphipods are gaining attention in aquaculture as a natural live food alternative to traditional preys such as brine shrimps (Artemia spp.). The use of Artemia is convenient for the culture of many marine species, but often problematic for some others, such as seahorses and other marine ornamental species. Unlike Artemia, marine amphipods are consumed by fish in their natural environment and show biochemical profiles that better match the nutritional requirements of marine fish, particularly of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), including eicosapentaenoic (EPA) and docosahexaenoic (DHA) acids. Despite their potentially easy culture, there are no established culture techniques and a deeper knowledge on the reproductive biology, nutritional profiles and culture methodologies is still needed to potentiate the optimization of mass production. The present study assessed, for the first time, the aquaculture potential of Parhyale hawaiensis and Elasmopus pectenicrus, two cosmopolitan marine gammarids (as per traditional schemes of classification) that naturally proliferate in the wild and in aquaculture facilities. For that purpose, aspects of the population and reproductive biology of the species were characterized and then a series of laboratory-scale experiments were conducted to determine amphipod productivity, the time needed to reach sexual maturity by hatchlings (generation time), cannibalism degree, the effects of sex ratio on fecundity and the effects of diet (shrimp diet, plant-based diet and commercial fish diet) on fecundity and juvenile growth. P. hawaiensis, unlike E. pectenicrus, was easily maintained and propagated in laboratory conditions. P. hawaiensis showed a higher total length (9.3 ± 1.3 mm), wet weight (14.4 ± 6.2 mg), dry weight (10.5 ± 4.4 mg), females/males sex ratio (2.24), fecundity (12.8 ± 5.7 embryos per female), and gross energy content (16.71 ± 0.67 kJ g-1) compared to E. pectenicrus (7.9 ± 1.2 mm total length; 8.4 ± 4.3 mg wet weight; 5.7 ± 3.2 mg dry weight; 1.34 females/males sex ratio; 6.5 ± 3.9 embryos per female; 12.86 ± 0.82 kJ g−1 gross energy content). P. hawaiensis juvenile growth showed a small, but significant, reduction by the use of a plant-based diet compared to a commercial shrimp and fish diet; however, fecundity was not affected, supporting the possible use of inexpensive diets to mass produce amphipods as live or frozen food. Possible limitations of P. hawaiensis could be their quite long generation times (50.9 ± 5.8 days) and relatively low fecundity levels (12.8 ± 5.7 embryos per female). With an observed productivity rate of 0.36 ± 0.08 juveniles per amphipod couple per day, P. hawaiensis could become a specialty feed for species that cannot easily transition to a formulated diet such as seahorses and other highly priced marine ornamental species.