Biodiversity in the Southern Gulf of Mexico

Principal Investigator

This this is a 3 year project that aims to provide knowledge on marine macrofauna of the southern sector of the Gulf of Mexico.

Coastal area habitats are under a variety of pressures, from both anthropogenic and environmental origins, putting the biological diversity that lives in them at risk. Mexico's coastal ecosystems do not escape this reality and at present are exposed to the effects of overexploitation, dumping of organic and inorganic compounds and the constant risk of habitat modification by the creation of coastal infrastructures.

Among the more exposed ecosystems are the beaches, coastal wetlands and coral reefs, to which the expected rise in seawater temperature, the acidification from the effects of global climate change, increased turbidity from sediments, the presence of invasive species and the presence of heavy metals and organochlorine contaminants could have high negative impact effects on the medium-and long-term.

This scenario makes it imperative to know the actual state of the aforementioned ecosystems in the south of the Gulf of Mexico to compile reference information to establish present conditions of marine biodiversity of the these ecosystems. The knowledge of the diversity, abundance and distribution of species is the base for developing projects for conservation and the good use of its natural resources with an aim to preserve its ecological, economic and cultural importance.

This is a 3 year project that aims to provide knowledge on marine macrofauna of the southern sector of the Gulf of Mexico, with emphasis on coastal areas and reefs of the Campeche Bank. The UMDI-Sisal already has 4 registered collections (Fish, Mollusca, Crustacea and Cnidaria) and three more in preparation for registration (Tunicata, Hydrozoa and Bryozoa). We have collaborated with the “Gerardo Green” National Sponges Collections and the “Maria Elena Caso” Echinoderms, both in the ICMyL (Instituto de Ciencias del Mar y Limnología – Institute of Marine Sciences and Limnology ) of the UNAM. These collections have safeguarded the collected materials from research projects on the Alacranes Reefs and Sisal Shoals.

This project aims to focus collection efforts to remote regions of which we know little or nothing at all. The material collected will be cured and processed to expand diversity inventories of the taxa Crustacea, Mollusca, Anthozoa, Hydrozoa, Platyhelminthes, Echinodermata, Tunicata and Porifera from 10 priority regions of the Gulf of Mexico, 7 NPAs and 4 RAMSAR sites. Information on the geographical distribution of the most common species will be obtained.

The development of this project will contribute to consolidate the presence of regional taxonomic reference collections, supported by geo-referenced databases and photography catalogs of the collected specimens and of the specimens registered in the field. It is also intended to contribute to the formation of national specialists for the less charismatic or studied taxa and to publish the information to promote environmental education with quality products, to inform the general public, and lastly, to generate academic jobs to compile the collected information.


BioDiversidad Marina de Yucatán website


Two videos have been produced for the project during Year 1, as projected, and two more
are in progress.


April 2016 - Cayo Arcas Expedition:


May 2016 - Alacranes Expedition: