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Reduced diversity and high sponge abundance on a sedimented indo-pacific reef system: Implications for future changes in environmental quality

Powell, A and Smith, DJ and Hepburn, LJ and Jones, T and Berman, J and Jompa, J and Bell, JJ (2014) 'Reduced diversity and high sponge abundance on a sedimented indo-pacific reef system: Implications for future changes in environmental quality.' PLoS ONE, 9 (1). ISSN 1932-6203

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Abstract

Although coral reef health across the globe is declining as a result of anthropogenic impacts, relatively little is known of how environmental variability influences reef organisms other than corals and fish. Sponges are an important component of coral reef fauna that perform many important functional roles and changes in their abundance and diversity as a result of environmental change has the potential to affect overall reef ecosystem functioning. In this study, we examined patterns of sponge biodiversity and abundance across a range of environments to assess the potential key drivers of differences in benthic community structure. We found that sponge assemblages were significantly different across the study sites, but were dominated by one species Lamellodysidea herbacea (42% of all sponges patches recorded) and that the differential rate of sediment deposition was the most important variable driving differences in abundance patterns. Lamellodysidea herbacea abundance was positively associated with sedimentation rates, while total sponge abundance excluding Lamellodysidea herbacea was negatively associated with rates of sedimentation. Overall variation in sponge assemblage composition was correlated with a number of variables although each variable explained only a small amount of the overall variation. Although sponge abundance remained similar across environments, diversity was negatively affected by sedimentation, with the most sedimented sites being dominated by a single sponge species. Our study shows how some sponge species are able to tolerate high levels of sediment and that any transition of coral reefs to more sedimented states may result in a shift to a low diversity sponge dominated system, which is likely to have subsequent effects on ecosystem functioning. © 2014 Powell et al.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health > Life Sciences, School of
Depositing User: Users 161 not found.
Date Deposited: 26 Sep 2014 15:16
Last Modified: 26 Aug 2019 08:15
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/10430

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