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Abstract

We provide the first assessment for a coral reef fish population of a potentially threatened endemic species from a remote and isolated oceanic island. Based on a 3-dimensional (3D) numerical field model of the reef habitat and underwater visual censuses conducted by 2 different teams in February and May 2016, we show that the 3.7 km2 of the Clipperton Atoll reefs shallower than 30 m host >50 000 ind. (average density of 0.02 ind. m−2) of the endemic Clipperton angelfish Holacanthus limbaughi. Based on limited submersible observations to 150 m, the population likely extends below the 30 m depth stratum, resulting in an even larger population size and providing a potential depth refuge against expected warming ocean temperatures.

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Estimating population sizes and genetic diversity are key factors to understand and predict population dynamics. Marine species have been a difficult challenge in that respect, due to the difficulty in assessing population sizes and the open nature of such populations. Small, isolated islands with endemic species offer an opportunity to groundtruth population size estimates with empirical data and investigate the genetic consequences of such small populations. Here we focus on two endemic species of reef fish, the Clipperton damselfish, Stegastes baldwini, and the Clipperton angelfish, Holacanthus limbaughi, on Clipperton Atoll, tropical eastern Pacific. Visual surveys, performed over almost two decades and four expeditions, and genetic surveys based on genomic RAD sequences, allowed us to estimate kinship and genetic diversity, as well as to compare population size estimates based on visual surveys with effective population sizes based on genetics. We found that genetic and visual estimates of population numbers were remarkably similar. S. baldwini and H. limbaughi had population sizes of approximately 800,000 and 60,000, respectively. Relatively small population sizes resulted in low genetic diversity and the presence of apparent kinship. This study emphasizes the importance of small isolated islands as models to study population dynamics of marine organisms.
Article
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Bioerosion is a natural process in coral reefs. It is fundamental to the health of these ecosystems. In the Eastern Tropical Pacific (ETP) coral reefs, the most important bioeroders are sponges, bivalves, sea urchins and the fish Arothron meleagris. In the 1980s, El Niño caused high coral mortality and an increase in macroalgal growth. As a result, greater sea urchin bioerosion occurred. This weakened the reef framework. Considering the high vulnerability of the ETP coral reefs, the goal of this study was to determine the current bioerosion impact of the sea urchin Diadema mexicanum along the western coasts of Mexico, El Salvador, Costa Rica and Panamá. The balance between coral bioaccretion and sea urchin bioerosion was also calculated. Between 2009 and 2010, in 12 coral reefs localities, D. mexicanum density, bottom cover and rugosity were quantified along band transects. The daily bioerosion rate was obtained from the amount of carbonates evacuated by sea urchins per unit time. The rate of coral accretion was calculated by multiplying the coral growth rate of the dominant genus by the density of their skeleton and by their specific coral cover. The localities were dissimilar (R = 0.765, P < 0.001) in terms of live coral cover, crustose calcareous algae, turf cover, rugosity index, and density and size of D. mexicanum. At all sites, with the exception of Bahía Culebra (Costa Rica), coral bioerosion was less than coral bioaccretion. Diadema mexicanum plays a dominant role in the balance of carbonates in the ETP, but this depends on reef condition (protection, overfishing, eutrophication) and so the impacts can be either positive or negative.
Technical Report
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Une expédition de nature éco-touristique privilégiant la plongée et une démarche de «science participative» s’est déroulée du 28 janvier au 11 février 2016 autour de l’atoll de Clipperton et dans l’archipel mexicain des Revillagigedos. Organisée par une société canadienne, la logistique a été assurée par le navire Quino El Guardian, un troller américain de 28 m basé au port de San José del Cabo (Basse-Californie mexicaine) et géré par un équipage mexicain de neuf personnes (incluant deux moniteurs de plongée). Le groupe de 11 touristes relevant de sept nationalités (Mexique, USA, Pologne, Puerrto Rico, Canada, Grèce et Angleterre) était géré par les deux chefs d’expédition canadiens (Michel Labrecque et Julie Ouimet). Ils ont bénéficié de l’encadrement technique de trois scientifiques respectivement francocolombien (Sandra BesSudo), mexicain (Mauricio Hoyos) et français (Eric CLUA).Après un voyage de 120 h, trois jours de mouillage à l’ouest de l’atoll de Clipperton (en face de Port Jaouen) ont permis aux 16 plongeurs accompagnés des deux moniteurs de débarquer à terre le 02 février, entre 11 :00 et 17 :15. Une cérémonie de levée des couleurs françaises a permis de remplacer le drapeau qui avait disparu et de vérifier le bon état de la stèle déposée par le député Folliot en avril 2015. Trois personnes (E. Clua, S. Bessudo et M. Labrecque) ont éffectué à pied le tour de l’atoll pendant que les autres personnes se contentaient de visiter le rocher avant de ré-embarquer. Le tour d’ilôt a permis de constater la vivacité de la végétation rampante et des cocotiers, une baisse potentielle de la densité des crabes et des oiseaux et la présence de rats nuisant probablement aux autres animaux. L’atoll est toujours jonché de nombreux déchets abandonnés par les missions précédentes et apportés par la mer, en grande majorité depuis les pays d’Amérique centrale (Nicaragua, Costa Rica, etc.). Deux épaves légères (cannots en fibre autour de 5 m de long) se sont échouées à proximité du rocher, au sud de l’atoll. La mesure du cordon littoral sur les deux sites correspondant à l’emplacement des anciennes passes ont débouché sur des largeurs de 40 m au nord-est et seulement 14 m au sud (au lieu de 20 m en avril 2015). Cette dernière mesure montre une érosion très agressive laissant présager une ré-ouverture naturelle prochaine. Les journées du 03 et 04 février ont été dédiées à six plongées sur la pente récifale à l’ouest (cinq) et à l’est (une) de l’atoll, entre 12 et 30 m de profondeurs. Sur le plan scientifique, ces plongées ont permis de remplacer les batteries de récepteurs acoustiques qui avaient été installés -de même que des requins marqués- autour de Clipperton entre 2010 et 2013 par l’équipe mexicaine, sans autorisation de la France ni partenariat avec des chercheurs français. Outre cet aspect logistique, ce début de collaboration a permis de capturer et marquer trois autres requins dont deux adultes de requin des Galapagos (autour de 2 m) avec des marques acoustiques et satellitaires, et un juvénile de requin à pointe blanche (80 cm de long) seulement avec une marque acoustique. Sous l’eau, la densité des requins est apparue extrêmement faible, de même que la longueur moyenne correspondant à des individus juvéniles pour la grande majorité. Il semblerait que ces populations de requins ont subi une surpêche importante dans les décennies précédentes. Concernant les récifs autour de l’atoll, ils semblent en excellente santé avec un taux de recouvrement en corail vivant souvent >80%. Bien que peu variées en espèces, les populations de poissons de récifs sont en densités importantes. Les plongées ont permis l’identification d’une nouvelle espèce, jamais observée à ce jour autour de l’atoll, à savoir la carangue géante Caranx ignobilis. Certaines espèces endémiques comme la demoiselle de Clipperton Stegastes baldwini pourraient faire l’objet d’une utilisation commerciale sur le marché de l’aquariophilie, point qui ne semble pas acquis pour le poisson ange de Clipperton Holacanthus limbaughi, dont les densités semblent insuffisantes de prime abord. Une étude plus approfondie est néanmoins en cours de réalisation sur la base d’une vingtaine de comptages sous-marins effectués au cours des six plongées. Le 03 février au matin vers 07 :00, un thonnier senneur mexicain d’une soixantaine de mètres, dénommé «Conquista» (photo ci-dessus), est venu s’ancrer à l’ouest de l’atoll, à environ 2 miles au large. Un hélicoptère a été déployé de même que deux cannots avec une dizaine de marins en tout, dont huit se sont mis à l’eau avec palmes-masque-tuba sur le platier en face du camp Bougainville, probablement pour pêcher des langoustes. Deux marins ont débarqué à terre où ils sont restés deux heures (entre 9 et 11 :00) avant d’être récupérés par les cannots et sans que leur activité à terre n’ait pu être déterminée. Il convient de noter que ce débarquement sans autorisation du haussariat de Polynésie française est illicite. Par ailleurs, le capitaine du Conquista n’a répondu à aucune des trois sollicitations radio du capitaine du Quino El Guardian et les réponses des marins des cannots, approchés pour connaître leurs intentions sur la zone, sont restées très évasives. Le navire a quitté les lieux le jour même vers 13 :00. Sur le chemin du retour, deux jours entiers ont été dédiés à six plongées sans portée scientifique sur les îles de Socorro et Benedicto (archipel des Revillagigedo). Cette expédition, première à imposer la prise en charge intégrale d’un ressortissant français contre l’autoraisation de débarquement et de travail scientifique autour de l’atoll, a permis de ré-affirmer la souveraineté française en présence de mexicains parfois ambigüs sur le sujet au cours de l’expédition. Elle a posé les jalons d’une implication de scientifiques français, à travers le CRIOBE, dans les recherches qui s’effectuent à une échelle régionale au sein du «Corridor du Pacifique Tropical Est», dénommé CMAR et créé en 2004 par les quatre pays fondateurs que sont le Costa Rica, Panama, Colombie et Equateur, chacun détenant une île océanique à savoir respectivement Cocos island, Coïba island, Malpelo et l’Archipel des Galapagos. Ce réseau est en passe de s’étendre au Nord en incluant le Mexique, via l’archipel des Revillagigedos. Il apparaît urgent que la France mette en œuvre des mesures de protection effective des ressources -a minima dans les eaux mitoyennes de l’atoll (12 miles)-, avec probablement un statut d’Aire Marine Protégée comme il existe dans toutes les autres îles du CMAR, condition sine qua non pour pouvoir officiellement et dès que possible rejoindre ce réseau, comme les logiques politique et régionale le suggèrent.
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p>The tropics are characterized by a variety of atmospheric and oceanic systems dominated by multi-scale interaction processes. This is Part I of a two-part review study on climate and climate variability of the Eastern Tropical Pacific (ETP). Here, the mean fields of incoming short wave radiation, surface energy fluxes, sea surface temperature, sea level pressure, salinity, wind patterns at 10m height, wind stress curl, precipitation, and evaporation are analyzed and synthetized using available data including that from the last decade. Given the strong interaction between the ETP and Caribbean Sea-Atlantic Ocean, mean field discussions are presented for two different domains, a relatively large domain from 24° S - 36° N and between 129° W - 17° W, and a smaller domain embedding only the Caribbean Sea and the easternmost part of the ETP. Most results on the climate of these two regions can be used as the base line for climate change studies. Interannual variability of tropical cyclones is also investigated over the domain of the latter two basins in the smaller domain. The study is complemented with a short review of some low frequency modes, such as, El Niño-Southern Oscillation, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, and the Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation. Such low-frequency modes are known to modulate regional systems, including tropical cyclone frequency. </div
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RESUMEN Con el propósito de estudiar la ictiofauna de la Isla Socorro Colima (México), se analizaron cinco zonas marinas costeras realizando censos visuales submarinos entre 2 y 10 m de profundidad durante junio y julio de 2007. Se realizaron 37 transectos cubriendo un área de muestreo de 7 400 m 2. Se observaron 16 312 peces reflejando una densidad de 2,2 ind · m-2. Se identificaron 83 especies pertenecientes a 32 familias. Las familias con mayor número de especies fueron: Labridae con nueve, Serranidae, Balistidae y Pomacentridae con seis y Muranidae y Carangidae con cuatro. El 15,7 % de las especies no se mencionan en ningún estudio de la ictiofauna del Archipiélago Revillagigedo. Se estableció una mayor similitud entre las especies observadas, con las registradas en la parte Sur de la Península de Baja California. ABSTRACT In order to study the fish of the Socorro Island in Colima (México), five coastal marine zones were analyzed realizing visual submarines censuses between 2 and 10 m in depth during June and July 2007. These 37 transects were conducted covering a sampling area of 7 400 m 2. It was observed 16 312 fish reflecting a density of 2,2 ind · m-2 and 83 species of 32 families were identified. The families with main number of species were: Labridae with nine, Serranidae, Balistidae and Pomacentridae with six and Muranidae and Carangidae with four. The 15,7 % of the species are not mentioned in any study of the ichthyofauna of the Revillagigedo Archipelago. A greater similarity between the species was observed, with those in the Southern part of Baja California.
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The most traded species are the blue-green damselfish (Chromis viridis), the clown anemonefish (Amphiprion ocellaris), the whitetail dascyllus (Dascyllus aruanus), the sapphire devil (Chrysiptera cyanea) and the threespot dascyllus (Dascyllus trimaculatus). The ten most traded species account for about 36 per cent of all fish traded for the years 1997 to 2002. Trade data, correlated with aquarium suitability information, indicate that two species known not to acclimatize well to aquarium conditions are nonetheless very commonly traded. They are the bluestreak cleaner wrasse (Labroides dimidiatus: GMAD records 87,000 worldwide imports of this species from 1997 to 2002) and the mandarin fish (Synchiropus splendidus: GMAD records 11,000 live individuals exported to the EU in the same period). 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Extensive and unregulated harvest of marine ornamental fishes can lead to localized depletion of target species and habitat degradation from inappropriate collecting techniques. One potential solution to these problems is the creation of marine reserves where fishing is prohibited. Marine reserves have been shown to increase fish abundance and protect ecosystems from habitat destruction associated with fishing. If protective areas are to be effective, they must include the diversity of habitats necessary to accommodate the wide range of fish species that are of interest to the marine ornamental fish trade. Fish assemblages with high diversity and abundance are often associated with habitats of high structural complexity. A relationship between fish size and reef complexity suggests the importance of shelter as a refuge for certain fishes in avoiding predation. Many species tend to aggregate to spawn in structurally complex habitats to reduce their risk of predation. Closing of spawning areas during aggregation periods has been shown to be a highly effective management strategy for these species. The limited home ranges and high degree of habitat specificity associated with many marine ornamental fishes should make marine reserves a highly effective strategy for managing these resources.
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Coral reefs are the most diverse ecosystem in the sea. Throughout the world they are being over- fished, polluted and destroyed, placing biodiversity at risk. To date, much of the concern over biodiversity loss has centred on local losses and the possibility of global extinction has largely been discounted. However, recent research has shown that 24% of reef fish species have restricted ranges (< 800 000 km2), with 9% highly restricted (< 50 000 km2). Restricted-range species are thought to face a greater risk of extinction than more widespread species since local impacts could cause global loss. We searched for information on status in the wild and characteristics of 397 restricted-range reef fish species. Fish body size, habitat requirements and usefulness to people were compared with those of a taxonomically-matched sample of more widespread species. We found that on average species with restricted ranges were significantly smaller (mean total length 19.1 cm versus 24.4 cm), tended to have narrower habitat requirements and were less used by people. Greater habitat specificity will tend to increase extinction risk while, if real, more limited usefulness (equivalent to exploitation) may reduce risk. Fifty-eight percent of restricted-range species were considered common/abundant in the wild and 42% uncommon/rare. Population status and threats to 319 species for which data were available were assessed according to the categories and criteria of the IUCN red list of threatened animals. A number of species were found to be rare, were exploited and had highly restricted ranges overlapping areas where reef degradation is particularly severe, placing them at a high risk of extinction. Five species were listed as Critically Endangered, two of them possibly already extinct in the wild, one as Endangered and 172 as Vulnerable. A further 126 species fell into Lower Risk categories and 11 were considered Data Deficient. Given the intensity of impacts to reefs, the broad geographical areas affected and the large numbers of restricted-range species, global extinctions seem likely. Urgent management action is now crucial for the survival of several species of reef fishes.
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To what extent do local populations of tropical reef fishes persist through the recruitment of pelagic larvae to their natal reef? Endemics from small, isolated islands can help answer that question by indicating whether special biological attributes are needed for long-term survival under enforced localization in high-risk situations. Taxonomically and biologically, the endemics from seven such islands are broadly representative of their regional faunas. As natal-site recruitment occurs among reef fishes in much less isolated situations, these characteristics of island endemics indicate that a wide range of reef fishes could have persistent self-sustaining local populations. Because small islands regularly support substantial reef fish faunas, regional systems of small reserves could preserve much of the diversity of these fishes.
Article
Coral reef geomorphology and community composition were investigated in the tropical northeastern Pacific during April 1994. Three areas were surveyed in the Revillagigedo Islands (Mexico), and an intensive study was conducted on Clipperton Atoll (1,300 km SW of Acapulco), including macro-scale surface circulation, sea surface temperature (SST) climatology, geomorphology, coral community structure, zonation, and biogeography. Satellite-tracked drifter buoys from 1979–1993 demonstrated complex patterns of surface circulation with dominantly easterly flow (North Equatorial Counter Current, NECC), but also westerly currents (South Equatorial Current, SEC) that could transport propagules to Clipperton from both central and eastern Pacific regions. The northernmost latitude reached by the NECC is not influenced by El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events, but easterly flow velocity evidently is accelerated at such times. Maximum NECC flow rates indicate that the eastern Pacific barrier can be bridged in 60 to 120 days. SST anomalies at Clipperton occur during ENSO events and were greater at Clipperton in 1987 than during 1982–1983. Shallow (15–18 m)and deep (50–58 m) terraces are present around most of Clipperton, probably representing Modern and late Pleistocene sea level stands. Although Clipperton is a well developed atoll with high coral cover, the reef-building fauna is depauperate, consisting of only 7 species of scleractinian corals belonging to the generaPocillopora, Porites, Pavona andLeptoseris, and 1 species of hydrocoral in the genusMillepora. The identities of the one Pocilpopora species and one of the twoPorites species are still unknown. Two of the remaining scleractinians (Pavona minuta, Leptoseris scabra) and the hydrocoral (Millepora exaesa), all formerly known from central and western Pacific localities, represent new eastern Pacific records. Scleractinian corals predominate (10–100% cover) over insular shelf depths of 8 to 60m, and crustose coralline algae are dominant (5–40% cover) from 0.5 to 7m. Spur and groove features, constructed of alternating frameworks ofPocillopora andPorites, and veneered with crustose coralline algae, are generally well developed around most atoll exposures. Although crustose coralline algae predominate in the breaker zone (with up to 100% cover), a prominent algal ridge is absent with only a slight buildup (ca. 10 cm) to seaward. Frequent grazing by the pufferfishArothron meleagris results in the removal of large amounts of live tissue and skeleton fromPorites lobata. Acanthaster planci is present, but rare. The grazing of large diadematid sea urchins, (2 species each ofDiadema andEchinothrix) on dead corals cause extensive erosion in some areas. Large numbers of corals on the 15–18 m terrace had recently suffered partial (P. lobata, 60–70% maximum of all colonies sampled) or total (Pocillopora sp., 80% maximum) mortality. The lengths of regenerating knobs and the rates of linear skeletal growth inP. lobata, determined by sclerochronologic analysis, indicated a period of stress during 1987. Massive skeletal growth is significantly higher at intermediate (16–17 m) than shallow (6–8 m) depths with mean extension rates of 1.5 mm yr−1 inP. lobata and 1.4 mm yr−1 inP. minuta at intermediate depths. Skeletal growth inP. lobata was depressed during the 1987 El Nifio event at Clipperton. The branching coralPocillopora sp. demonstrated high and similar skeletal growth rates at both shallow (25.4 mm yr−1) and intermediate (26.5 mm yr−1) depths. The presence of widely distributed Indo-Pacific zooxanthellate corals at Clipperton and the Revillagigedo Islands indicates that these NE Pacific Islands probably serve as a stepping stone for dispersal into the far eastern Pacific region.
Article
As the giant trevally is absent from the list by Fourrière et al. (2014), we present here the first record of C. ignobilis in the waters surrounding the Clipperton atoll.
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