Outcropping reef ledges drive patterns of epibenthic assemblage diversity on cross-shelf habitats

Monk, Jacquomo, Barrett, Neville S, Hill, Nicole A, Lucieer, Vanessa L, Nichol, Scott L, Siwabessy, Paulus Justy W and Williams, Stefan B 2016, Outcropping reef ledges drive patterns of epibenthic assemblage diversity on cross-shelf habitats, Biodiversity and conservation, vol. 25, no. 3, pp. 485-502, doi: 10.1007/s10531-016-1058-1.

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Title Outcropping reef ledges drive patterns of epibenthic assemblage diversity on cross-shelf habitats
Author(s) Monk, JacquomoORCID iD for Monk, Jacquomo orcid.org/0000-0002-1874-0619
Barrett, Neville S
Hill, Nicole A
Lucieer, Vanessa L
Nichol, Scott L
Siwabessy, Paulus Justy W
Williams, Stefan B
Journal name Biodiversity and conservation
Volume number 25
Issue number 3
Start page 485
End page 502
Total pages 18
Publisher Springer
Place of publication Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Publication date 2016-03
ISSN 0960-3115
Summary Seafloor habitats on continental shelf margins are increasingly being the subject of worldwide conservation efforts to protect them from human activities due to their biological and economic value. Quantitative data on the epibenthic taxa which contributes to the biodiversity value of these continental shelf margins is vital for the effectiveness of these efforts, especially at the spatial resolution required to effectively manage theseecosystems. We quantified the diversity of morphotype classes on an outcropping reef system characteristic of the continental shelf margin in the Flinders Commonwealth Marine Reserve, southeastern Australia. The system is uniquely characterized by long linear outcropping ledge features in sedimentary bedrock that differ markedly from the surrounding low-profile, sand-inundated reefs. We characterize a reef system harboring rich morphotype classes, with a total of 55 morphotype classes identified from the still images captured by an autonomous underwater vehicle. The morphotype class Cnidaria/Bryzoa/Hydroid matrix dominated the assemblages recorded. Both a and b diversitydeclined sharply with distance from nearest outcropping reef ledge feature. Patterns of the morphotype classes were characterized by (1) morphotype turnover at scales of 5 to 10s m from nearest outcropping reef ledge feature, (2) 30 % of morphotype classes were recordedonly once (i.e. singletons), and (3) generally low levels of abundance (proportion cover) of the component morphotype class. This suggests that the assemblages in this region contain a considerable number of locally rare morphotype classes. This study highlights the particular importance of outcropping reef ledge features in this region, as they provide a refuge against sediment scouring and inundation common on the low profile reef that characterizes this region. As outcropping reef features, they represent a small fraction of overall reef habitat yet contain much of the epibenthic faunal diversity. This study has relevance to conservation planning for continental shelf habitats, as protecting a single, or few, areas of reef is unlikely to accurately represent the geomorphic diversity of cross-shelf habitats and the morphotype diversity that is associated with these features. Equally, whendesigning monitoring programs these spatially-discrete, but biologically rich outcropping reef ledge features should be considered as distinct components in stratified sampling designs.
Language eng
DOI 10.1007/s10531-016-1058-1
Field of Research 050102 Ecosystem Function
050202 Conservation and Biodiversity
060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology)
0501 Ecological Applications
0502 Environmental Science And Management
0602 Ecology
Socio Economic Objective 970105 Expanding Knowledge in the Environmental Sciences
HERDC Research category C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
Copyright notice ©2016, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30089997

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