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Baisre J.A.,Acuario Nacional de Cuba
Conservation Biology | Year: 2013

The recent extnction of the Caribbean monk seal Monachus tropicalis has been considered an example of a human-caused extinction in the marine environment, and this species was considered a driver of the changes that have occurred in the structure of Caribbean coral reef ecosystems since colonial times. I searched archaeological records, historical data, and geographic names (used as a proxy of the presence of seals) and evaluated the use and quality of these data to conclude that since prehistoric times the Caribbean monk seal was always rare and vulnerable to human predation. This finding supports the hypothesis that in AD 1500, the Caribbean monk seal persisted as a small fragmented population in which individuals were confined to small keys, banks, or isolated islands in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. This hypothesis is contrary to the assumption that the species was widespread and abundant historically. The theory that the main driver of monk seal extinction was harvesting for its oil for use in the sugar cane industry of Jamaica during the 18th century is based primarily on anecdotal information and is overemphasized in the literature. An analysis of reported human encounters with this species indicates monk seal harvest was an occasional activity, rather than an ongoing enterprise. Nevertheless, given the rarity of this species and its restricted distribution, even small levels of hunting or specimen collecting must have contributed to its extinction, which was confirmed in the mid-20th century. Some sources had been overlooked or only partially reviewed, others misinterpreted, and a considerable amount of anecdotal information had been uncritically used. Critical examination of archaeological and historical records is required to infer accurate estimations of the historical abundance of a species. In reconstructing the past to address the shifting baseline syndrome, it is important to avoid selecting evidence to confirm modern prejudices. © 2013 Society for Conservation Biology.

Labastida E.,Colegio de Mexico | Henaut Y.,Conducta | del Carmen Garcia-Rivas M.,Secretaria de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales | Chevalier P.P.,Acuario Nacional de Cuba | MacHkour-M'rabet S.,Colegio de Mexico
Latin American Journal of Aquatic Research | Year: 2015

The red lionfish (Pterois volitans) and devil fire-fish (Pterois miles) are invasive species that pose a threat to the biodiversity and stability of coral reefs in the Western Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea. Species identification of lionfish is uncertain in some parts of Cuba, and research has mainly been focused on their biology and ecology. The principal aim of this study was to determine highly polymorphic markers (Inter Simple Sequence Repeat, ISSR) that could be used in research on lionfish population genetics in addition to confirming the presence of Pterois species in the Guanahacabibes National Park. The genetic profile or “fingerprint” of individuals collected in Mexico, formally identified as P. volitans, was compared with the genetic profile of specimens from Cuba. There were very few “diagnostic bands” and a high number of “common bands”, demonstrating that the same species exists in both countries. Furthermore, Nei's genetic distance and the unrooted tree do not show significant differences between both localities. In light of these results, we can confirm the presence of P. volitans in the Guanahacabibes National Park, Cuba. This study demonstrates the functionality of ISSR as a molecular tool for species identification and their application for genetic population studies of this invasive fish species. © 2015, Escuela de Ciencias del Mar. All rights reserved.

Aragon H.C.,Acuario Nacional de Cuba | Alcolado P.M.,Institute Oceanologia | Rey-Villiers N.,Institute Oceanologia
Revista de Biologia Tropical | Year: 2016

Wave exposure can influence community structure and distribution of shallow coral reefs, by affecting organisms both directly and indirectly. To assess the current stony coral community condition under different degrees of wave exposure at a marine protected area of the Gulf of Cazones (SW Cuba), two expeditions were carried out in May 2010 and June 2012. Four sampling sites were sampled at reef crests (1.5 m deep), and twelve at fore-reefs, at 10, 15 and 20 m deep in four geographic locations. Live coral cover, species richness and composition, colony density, and maximum diameter were assessed using the AGRRA 2001 methodology. Multivariate and non-parametric statistics were applied to compare sites. The coral community structure within reef crests was not homogenous. The observed variability of indicators apparently was determined by great coral mortality events resulting from natural disturbances that occurred in the past (hurricanes, bleaching and diseases). Forereef coral communities displayed better condition and lower coral mortality than reef crests. Species richness and coral composition varied, while multivariate and statistical methods did not reveal site grouping with regard to wave exposure. The remaining biological condition indicators were similar among sites, except in the most exposed one, where coral cover and coral size were slightly lower. Wave exposure in the gulf of Cazones seemed not to have a significant influence on differences in condition and structure of the assessed coral communities. © 2016, Universidad de Costa Rica. All rights reserved.

Varela C.,Acuario Nacional de Cuba | De Figueroa J.M.T.,University of Granada | Luis S.-T.,University of Granada
Zootaxa | Year: 2011

A new species of Entoprocta belonging to the genus Loxosomella is described: L. cubana n. sp. It has been found on the coast of Cuba living as an epizoite on the sponge Aiolochroia crassa. It is one of the largest Loxosomatidae described up to now and the first record of an entoproct for Cuba. © 2011 Magnolia Press.

Castellanos-Gell J.,University of Habana | Robainas-Barcia A.,Pierre Fabre | Chevalier-Monteagudo P.,Acuario Nacional de Cuba | Metcalfe C.,CSIRO | And 4 more authors.
Marine Biology | Year: 2016

We aimed to identify biotic and abiotic factors underlying genetic structure and diversity of reef fish around Cuba. For three species, Stegastes partitus, Haemulon flavolineatum and Acanthurus tractus, we investigated the effects of shared environmental factors, such as the geography of the Cuban Archipelago, and specific characteristics, such as life history traits, on genetic structure and diversity. Samples were collected at five locations around Cuba. For S. partitus and H. flavolineatum, mitochondrial DNA and microsatellite loci were examined, whereas only mitochondrial DNA polymorphism was analyzed for A. tractus. All three species showed high genetic diversity. Mismatch distribution analyses suggest past population expansion in all species, but at different times in each species. Haplotype network and population genetic analyses suggest that: (1) S. partitus went through a recent population bottleneck in the late Pleistocene, (2) H. flavolineatum went through a population bottleneck but earlier, in the mid-Pleistocene, and (3) A. tractus has had a large and stable population size with coalescence times that go back to the late Pliocene. Genetic polymorphism in H. flavolineatum and A. tractus is homogeneous throughout the archipelago, whereas there is significant genetic structure in S. partitus. Genetic differentiation among S. partitus populations is most likely the result of the combined effects of egg type and oceanic current patterns along the Cuban coast. © 2016, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.

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