Polychaete diversity in the estuarine habitats of Términos Lagoon, southern Gulf of Mexico

Pablo Hernández-Alcántara, J. Daniel Cortés-Solano, Nadiezhda M. Medina-Cantú, A. Laura Avilés-Díaz and Vivianne Solís-Weiss

Memoirs of Museum Victoria Vol 71 p. 97–107 (2014)



In order to establish the status of the biodiversity of the polychaete fauna inhabiting the soft bottoms in the largest lagoon-estuarine system from the southern end of the Gulf of Mexico, Términos Lagoon, we collected and identified 3,398 specimens belonging to 119 species and 33 families of polychaetes. The soft bottom fauna was then compared with records of polychaetes collected in other habitats in the lagoon such as seagrass beds and mangroves. In all, 190 species from 34 families of polychaetes previously recorded there were taken into account. The families Nereididae (20 spp.), Spionidae (15 spp.) and Syllidae (14 spp.) were the most diverse. The soft bottom habitat has by far the largest number of species (119) followed by the seagrass beds and mangroves with 75 and 42 species respectively. Large spatial heterogeneity in polychaete composition was observed, as only 5% of the species (Melinna maculata, Capitella sp., Mediomastus californiensis, Schistomeringos rudolphii, Marphysa sanguinea, Alitta succinea, Diopatra cuprea, Scoloplos treadwelli, Prionospio heterobranchia and Scolelepis squamata) were widely distributed in the lagoon. The polychaete fauna living in the mangroves is quite similar to that from seagrasses and soft bottoms (R(ANOSIM) = 0.247 and 0.3 respectively), but the polychaetes in the seagrasses and soft bottoms are clearly different from each other (R(ANOSIM) = 0.622). The 119 polychaete species identified in this study represent a significant increase in the records of biodiversity recorded so far in Términos Lagoon, while the total of 190 species recorded for the whole lagoon represents a larger number than any other recorded for an American tropical estuary.


Hernández-Alcántara, P., Cortés-Solano, J.D., Medina-Cantú, N.M., Avilés-Díaz, A.L. & Solís-Weiss, V., 2014. Polychaete diversity in the estuarine habitats of Términos Lagoon, southern Gulf of Mexico. Memoirs of Museum Victoria 71: 97-107. http://doi.org/10.24199/j.mmv.2014.71.10

PUBLICATION DATE: 18 December 2014

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