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Epiphytic diatoms associated with red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle) prop roots in Bahia Magdalena, Baja California Sur, Mexico.

Abstract. The first floristic inventory of benthic diatoms is provided for the Bahia Magdalena-Bahia Almejas lagoon system. Samplings were carried out during November of 1999. The oxydized samples were mounted permanently. Eighty six diatom taxa were identified, out of which 59 are new records for the Bahia Magdalena area, and 12 taxa are new for the Baja California peninsula. Taxa recorded previously as rare in other substrata are common or abundant on the epiphytic macroalgae of mangrove prop roots. Other species are mainly epipelic forms, while 24 are commonly found as tychoplankton in the area. Certain taxa appear to be characteristic of mangrove systems in general. Rev. Biol. Trop. 54(2): 287-297. Epub 2006 Jun 01.

Key words: benthic diatoms, epiphytes, mangrove, Bahia Magdalena, macroalgae.


Much of the epiphytic flora growing on marine macrophytes are diatoms (Kita and Harada 1962, Jacobs and Noten 1980). These may contribute significantly to the primary production of mangrove systems where diatoms from different substrata are the main microalgae forms (Siqueiros Beltrones 2002). Epiphytes enter the second level of the food chain when they are grazed by invertebrates (Navarro 1987). However, information regarding other host-epiphyte relations in mangroves is lacking, only a few floristic inventories exist, with some remarks on possible interactions (Navarro 1988), while fewer yet intent to define the structure of the epibiosis (Inclan-Rivadeneyra 1989).

Biogeographycally the Bahia Magdalena system is located within a transitional zone where tropical and temperate elements coexist (Castro Aguirre and Torres Orozco 1993). Mangroves are characteristic of the Baja California Sur coasts and B. Magdalena represents the northern limit of their distribution in the north-eastern Pacific (Blasco 1984). Mangroves constitute one of the most conspicuous tropical components of the system, and along with the ichthyological component it may have persisted since the peninsula separated from the Mexican continent six to seven m.y. ago (Castro Aguirre and Torres Orozco 1993).

Currently this area is of great importance for the fishing industry of the state. Although ichthyological studies for Bahia Magdalena are available, which support some of the most important fisheries, research on the benthic microflora that relate to other resources is lacking. Recently the microflora related to abalone fishing sites just outside the lagoon system has been undertaken (Siqueiros Beltrones 2000), but for the lagoon itself only indirect observations of tychoplanktonic diatoms have been made (Garate Lizarraga and Siqueiros Beltrones 1998) albeit lacking taxonomic precision.

In this study we show the first results of the taxonomic survey of diatoms found on red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle L.) prop roots in order to determine which diatom species may determine the structure of the epiphytic assemblage on mangrove prop roots.


The sampling was carried out in Bahia Magdalena during November 1999. Twelve 30 [cm.sup.2] segments were peeled off from submerged and exposed prop roots of red mangrove plants. The epiphytic macroalgae found on submerged portions of the roots were separated under a dissecting microscope. The root segments were brushed using a toothbrush rinsing with water to obtain a concentrate of sediments, organic matter and diatoms that were observed in fresh mounts to determine the proportion of live cells. The diatom frustules from the roots and macroalgae were cleaned by oxydizing the organic matter using nitric acid and alcohol. Permanent preparations were mounted by triplicate using Meltmount (R.I. = 1.7) (Siqueiros Beltrones 2000).

Drawings were made of the observed taxa on curatorial cards which include information on location, habitat, frequency, and meristic and morphometric data. These were included along with the slides in the diatom collection (Diatomario) of the Museo de Historia Natural of the Universidad Autonoma de Baja California Sur. Microphotographs of representative taxa were taken under an Olympus CH-2 microscope with phase contrast illumination.

Taxonomic determinations were done following the classic works of Peragallo and Peragallo (1897-1908), Hustedt (1955, 1959, 1961-1966), Hendey (1964), Cleve-Euler (1968), McIntire and Reimer (1974), Foged (1975, 1984), Navarro (1982), Siqueiros Beltrones and Ibarra Obando (1985), Simonsen (1987), Moreno et al. (1996), Siqueiros-Beltrones and Sanchez Castrejon (1999), Siqueiros-Beltrones and Morzaria Luna (1999), Siqueiros Beltrones (2000), Siqueiros Beltrones (2002). Round et al. (1990) was used for updating generic nomenclature. The epiphytic macroalgae were identified following Abbot and Hollenberg (1976).

Study Area. Bahia Magdalena is a shallow lagoon located on the western coast of Baja California Sur, between 24[grados]15' - 25[grados]20' N and 111[grados]30' - 112[grados]12' W (Fig. 1). It is part of the Bahia Magdalena-Bahia Almejas lagoon system (Garate Lizarraga and Siqueiros Beltrones 1998). The middle part of the Bahia Magdalena littoral where the sampling point was located (San Carlos docking area) is densely populated by mangroves mainly Rhizophora mangle and Avicennia germinans (black mangrove) bordering the coastline.



A total of 86 diatom taxa were identified as epiphytes of Rhizophora mangle prop roots (Table 1). 59 taxa are new records for the system.

Most of the taxa in this study were better represented on the macroalgae (Ulva sp., 1 species of the gelidiales, and a Polysiphonia species) separated from the root segments which appeared heavily epiphytized. In vivo observations of macroalgal thalli showed the presence of multispecific colonial growths in mucilaginous films (Amphora bigibba, Amphora proteus, Amphora ventricosa, Caloneis elongata, Cocconeis dirupta, Cocconeis scutellum, Cocconeis scutellum var. parva and Trachyneis spp.), stalked chains (Achnanthes yaquinensis, Cyclotella stylorum, Melosira nummuloides, Paralia sulcata), or erect tufts of Synedra gaillonii (Fig. 2a, b, c, respectively).


Taxa such as Navicula contenta, Navicula platyventris, Navicula pennata and Navicula salinarum and most of the Achnanthes species had been recorded elsewhere as epiphytes (Table 1) either from macroalgae or mangrove prop roots (Navarro 1987). Caloneis elongata, Navicula contenta, Navicula platyventris, Psammodyction constricta, Synedra gaillonii, and Trachyneis velata were abundant in our samples, although they are recorded for the first time for the peninsula, along with 6 other taxa (Table 1).

A representative array of the diatom taxocoenosis in the study site is presented in Figs. 3-6.



Previous studies on benthic diatoms in the system comprising only the rocky environment just outside Bahia Magdalena account for the remaining 27 taxa recorded in the system (Siqueiros Beltrones 2000, Siqueiros Beltrones and Valenzuela Romero 2001).

On the other hand, otherwise rare taxa from previous records in the region such as Achnanthes yaquinensis, Amphora bigibba, Cyclotella stylorum, and Melosira nummuloides (Siqueiros Beltrones 2002), were either common or abundant. Such observations have been made also on Macrocystis pyrifera in undergoing studies (Siqueiros Beltrones et al. 2002). All this indicates that host-epiphyte relations are important for the growth of certain benthic diatoms and some may be specific, mainly of the epiphytic macroalgae, but apparently not for the mangrove roots. However, the specificity of the macroalgae-prop root relation should be analyzed in order to determine if an indirect association exists between diatoms and mangrove roots.

Several species, although not abundant occur frequently enough to be considered epiphytes (e.g. Amphora proteus, Amphora ocellata, Caloneis elongata, Caloneis linearis) but further observations are required to confirm this. Other taxa, such as Diploneis obliqua, Lyrella exsul, Petroneis granulata, Surirella fastuosa and Surirella fastuosa var. cuneata occur principally in sediments of mangrove systems (Siqueiros-Beltrones and Sanchez-Castrejon 1999). These species may be opportunistic colonizers from the bottom sediments that migrate upward on the sediments covering the prop roots.

The epiphytic or epipelic taxa from the B.C.S. mangrove systems are somewhat similar to those from mangroves in different parts of the world (Foged 1975, 1984, Navarro 1987) and Sinaloa, Mexico (Moreno et al. 1996, Siqueiros Beltrones and Martinez Lopez unpublished.). The current inventory of benthic diatoms from mangrove systems, including this paper, has yielded 181 new records altogether for the Baja California peninsula since 1999 (Siqueiros-Beltrones and Sanchez Castrejon 1999, Siqueiros-Beltrones and Morzaria Luna 1999). Although the northern limit for most of them is not known certain taxa appear to be characteristic of the mangrove environment and have not been observed in other localities along the peninsula, especially on the northern part (Siqueiros Beltrones 2002).

Twenty four taxa from our inventory (Table 1) have been collected previously in phytoplankton tows (tychoplankton) representing an important part of the estimated biomass (Garate Lizarraga and Siqueiros Beltrones 1998). Although the species were not then identified, we observed them recently in samples collected by the above authors at the northern mouth of the Bahia Magdalena system, and can be considered as common tychoplankton. Also, 21 of the benthic diatom taxa in this study (Table 1) have been collected in deep water traps deployed 300 m offshore north-west of Bahia Magdalena. The occurrence of benthic diatoms in the traps and in the samples from phytoplankton tows suggests that organic material is exported offshore through the northern opening of the system (Martinez Lopez et al. 2004).

Tidal mixing has been identified as an important factor causing the presence of abundant benthic diatoms in the water column (Garate Lizarraga and Siqueiros Beltrones 1998). However, much work has to be done to complete the floristic inventory and analyze the association structure of benthic diatoms from the Bahia Magdalena-Bahia Almejas lagoon system. This information may provide important tools to explain oceanographic, ecological, and biogeographical phenomena in the area.


The sampling for this study was carried out during field trips for the Microalgas Marinas course of the Departamento de Biologia Marina of the Universidad Autonoma de Baja California Sur. The Museo de Historia Natural of the Universidad Autonoma de Baja California Sur financed laboratory material for processing the samples. Elisa Serviere from the Centro de Investigaciones Biologicas del Noroeste aided in the identification of the macroalgae.


Se presenta el primer inventario floristico de diatomeas benticas para el Sistema Lagunar Bahia Magdalena-Bahia Almejas. Se hicieron muestreos en noviembre de 1999. En las muestras oxidadas y montadas permanentemente, se identificaron 86 taxones, de los cuales 59 son nuevos registros para el area de Bahia Magdalena, y 12 son nuevos para la peninsula de Baja California. Taxones previamente registrados como escasos en otros sustratos son comunes o abundantes sobre macroalgas epifitas de raices primarias de mangle. Otras species son principalmente formas epipelicas, mientras que 24 son constituyentes comunes del ticoplancton del area. Ciertos taxones parecen ser caracteristicos de sistemas de manglar en general.

Palabras clave: diatomeas bentonicas, epifitas, mangle, Bahia Magdalena, macroalgas.


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D.A. Siqueiros Beltrones (1) & F.O. Lopez Fuerte (1)

(1) Centro Interdisciplinario de Ciencias Marinas. A.P. 592. La Paz B.C.S.;
Epiphytic diatoms collected on red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle) prop
roots in Bahia Magdalena, B.C.S., during November 1999

Achnanthes brevipes var. Intermedia (Kutz.) Cleve E, T, O       Rare
Achnanthes delicatula (Kutz.) Grunow E                          Rare
Achnanthes hauckiana Grunow                                 Abundant
Achnanthes kuwaitensis Hendey E                               Common
Achnanthes manifera Brun E                                      Rare
Achnanthes pseudogroenlandica var. Phineyii E                 Common
Achnanthes yaquinensis McIntire & Reimer E                    Common
Actinoptychus aster Brun T                                      Rare
Actinoptychus vulgaris Schuman T, O                             Rare
Amphora angusta Gregory E                                       Rare
Amphora bigibba Grunow E, T, O                              Abundant
* Amphora clevei Grunow                                         Rare
Amphora coffeaeformis var. salina (Wm. Smith) A. Cleve        Common
* Amphora obtusa var. typica Paragallo & Paragallo T, O         Rare
* Amphora ocellata Donkin E, T                                  Rare
Amphora proteus Cleve E, T                                    Common
Amphora strigosa Hustedt E                                    Common
Amphora ventricosa (Greg.) Cleve T, O                           Rare
Amphora sp. 1                                                   Rare
* Auliscus punctatus Bailey                                     Rare
* Caloneis elongata (Grun.) Boyer E                           Common
Caloneis linearis (Grun.) Boyer                               Common
Campylodiscus thuretii Brebisson                              Common
Catenula pelagica Mereshkowsky T, O                         Abundant
Cocconeis dirupta Gregory O                                     Rare
Cocconeis placentula Ehrenberg                                  Rare
* Cocconeis pseudomarginata Gregory                         Abundant
Cocconeis scutellum Ehrenberg E                             Abundant
Cocconeis scutellum var. Parva Grun. Ex. Cleve E            Abundant
Cyclotella litoralis Lange & Syvertsen E, T, O                  Rare
Denticula kuetzingii Grunow                                   Common
Denticula subtilis Grunow                                   Abundant
Dimeregramma maculatum (Cleve) Frenguelli                       Rare
Dimeregramma minor var. Genuina A. Cleve                      Common
Diploneis gravelleana Hagelstein T, O                           Rare
Diploneis gruendleri (A. Schmidt) Cleve                       Common
Diploneis obliqua (Brun.) Hustedt T, O                          Rare
Diploneis suborbicularis var. Intermedia A. Cleve               Rare
Fallacia nummularia (Grev.) Mann T, O                         Common
Fallacia approximatoides (Hust.) Mann                         Common
Fallacia vittata (Cleve) Mann                                 Common
Gomphonemopsis pseudoexigua (Simonsen) Medlin E                 Rare
Grammatophora marina Ehrenberg                                Common
Lyrella clavata var. subconstricta (Greg.) Mann T, O          Common
Lyrella exsul (A.S.) Mann                                   Abundant
Melosira nummuloides (Dillwyn) Agardh E, T                      Rare
Navicula cancellata Donkin                                      Rare
* Navicula contenta Grunow E                                Abundant
* Navicula ergadensis Gregory T                                 Rare
* Navicula gastrum (Ehr.) Donkin                                Rare
Navicula pennata Schmmidt E, T, O                           Abundant
Navicula platyventris Meister E                               Common
Navicula salinarum Grunow E                                   Common
Nitzschia angularis Wm. Smith                                   Rare
Nitzschia brittoni Hagelstein                                   Rare
Nitzschia dissipata (Kutz.) Grunow                          Abundant
Nitzschia frustulum var. perminuta Grunow                       Rare
Nitzschia grossestriata Hustedt                               Common
Nitzschia lanceolata var. minor Grunow                        Common
Nitzschia obtusa var. brevissima Grunow                       Common
Nitzschia sigma Wm. Smith                                       Rare
Nitzschia socialis Gregory                                      Rare
Nitzschia subhybrida Hustedt                                  Common
Nitzschia subtilis Grunow T, O                                Common
Odontinium marinum Grunow O                                   Common
Opephora pacifica (Grun.) Petit                             Abundant
Paralia sulacata (Ehr.) Cleve E, T, O                         Common
Paralia sulacata var. crenulata Grunow T, O                   Common
Paralia sulcata var. radiata (Grun.) Paragallo
  & Paragallo T, O                                              Rare
Petroneis granulata (Bail) Mann                                 Rare
Plagiotropis vitrea var. genuina A. Cleve                       Rare
Psammodictyon constrictum (Kutz.) D.G. Mann                 Abundant
Psammodictyon panduriformis var. lata (Greg.) Mann              Rare
Seminavis sp.                                                 Common
Staurophora amphioxys (Greg.) Mann                              Rare
Staurosirella pinnata (Ehr.) Mann                             Common
Surirella fastuosa Ehrenberg                                  Common
Surirella fastuosa var. cuneata A. Schmidt                    Common
Synedra tabulata var. affinis (Kutz.) A. Cleve              Abundant
* Synedra gailloni Ehrenberg E                              Abundant
Terpsinoe americana (Bail.) Ralfs                               Rare
* Thallassiosira leptopus (Grunow) Hasle & Fryxell E, O         Rare
Trachyneis aspera Ehrenberg E, T, O                             Rare
Trachyneis clepsydra (Donk.) Cleve E                          Common
* Trachyneis velata (A.S.) Cleve T, O                         Common
Tryblionella acuminata W. Smith T, O                          Common

Notes: * New records for the area.

E = Previously recorded as epiphytic on mangrove prop roots or as
abundant in this study; T = recorded also as tychoplankton; O = also
collected offshore.
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Author:Beltrones, D.A. Siqueiros; Fuerte, F.O. Lopez
Publication:Revista de Biologia Tropical
Date:Jun 1, 2006
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