2013 Rhodolith / Maerl Beds and Rocky Reefs Status Report

By: Dr. Rafael Riosmena-Rodriguez and Dr. Jorge Manuel López-Calderon

In recent decades there has been more often the loss and degradation of biodiversity and landscape in many terrestrial and marine environments. Thus, there have been elements that currently favor the management and protection of ecosystems based on new concepts of land use and environmental policy. It is essential to know the biological dynamics of marine environments, allowing us to understand how ecosystems respond to natural and anthropogenic disturbance, and define what action should be taken based on this knowledge.

The main threats to biodiversity in Laguna San Ignacio are over-fishing, the use of fishing gear and practices that damage the seabed, inadequate management of waste and the sale or lease of land to individuals interested in creating coastal developments that do not take into account the preservation of ecological balance.

In Laguna San Ignacio there are different relevant habitats for conservation: Rhodolith/Maerl beds1, rocky reefs, seaweed sheets, mangrove estuaries, and intertidal stands of marsh and seagrass beds. Developing appropriate conservation strategies requires the identification of critical areas that are sensitive to human and environmental disturbance. This is the case for Rhodolith/Maerl beds and rocky reefs within Laguna San Ignacio. This report provides an assessment of the presence of rocky reefs and Rhodolith/Maerl beds in Laguna San Ignacio. These findings will be provided to the Biosphere Reserve El Vizcaino to contribute to the improvement of its management plan. However, measures to ensure the conservation of seagrasses should also include an increased level of community awareness about the importance of these habitats, and the role they play not only for the economy and biodiversity at the regional level, but also their contribution to the reduction of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, and the slowing of global warming and ocean acidification.

1Rhodolith/Maerl beds are free living forms of dense aggregations of non-geniculate coralline red algae (Corallinophycideae: Rhodophyta) that can cover kilometers of seabed.

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