We evaluated the relationship between limnetic characteristics and fish community structure (based on species richness, abundance and individual size) in contrasting but interconnected inland aquatic habitats of freshwater karstic wetlands in the Yucatan peninsula, Mexico. In the western hemisphere, freshwater karstic wetlands are found in south-eastern Mexico, northern Belize, western Cuba, Andros Island, Bahamas and the Everglades of southern Florida. Only in the Everglades have fish communities been well described. Karstic wetlands are typically oligotrophic because calcium carbonate binds phosphorus, making it relatively unavailable for plants. Fourteen permanent and seasonally flooded water bodies were sampled in both wet and dry seasons in Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve, in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. Water systems were divided by morphology in four groups: cenotes with vegetation (CWV), cenotes without vegetation (CNV), wetlands (WTL), and temporal cenotes (TPC). Discriminant analysis based on physical characteristics such as turbidity, temperature, depth and oxygen confirmed that these habitats differed in characteristics known to influence fish communities. A sample-based rarefaction test showed that species richness was significantly different between water systems groups, showing that WTL and CWV had higher richness values than CNV and TPC. The most abundant fish families, Poeciliidae, Cichlidae and Characidae, differed significantly in average size among habitats and seasons. Seasonal and inter-annual variation, reflecting temporal variation in rainfall, strongly influenced the environmental differences between shallow and deep habitats, which could be linked to fish size and life cycles. Five new records of species were found for the reserve, and one new record for Quintana Roo state. ?? 2006 by Verlag Dr. Friedrich Pfeil.
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Fish community structure in freshwater karstic water bodies of the Sian Ka'an Reserve in the Yucatan peninsula, Mexico