Cross shelf benthic biodiversity patterns in the Southern Red Sea

Joanne Ellis, Holger Anlauf, Saskia Kurten, Diego Lozano-Cortés, Zahra Hassan Ali Alsaffar, Joao Curdia, Burton Jones, Susana Carvalho

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations

Abstract

The diversity of coral reef and soft sediment ecosystems in the Red Sea has to date received limited scientific attention. This study investigates changes in the community composition of both reef and macrobenthic communities along a cross shelf gradient. Coral reef assemblages differed significantly in species composition and structure with location and depth. Inner shelf reefs harbored less abundant and less diverse coral assemblages with higher percentage macroalgae cover. Nutrient availability and distance from the shoreline were significantly related to changes in coral composition and structure. This study also observed a clear inshore offshore pattern for soft sediment communities. In contrast to the coral reef patterns the highest diversity and abundance of soft sediment communities were recorded at the inshore sites, which were characterized by a higher number of opportunistic polychaete species and bivalves indicative of mild disturbance. Sediment grain size and nutrient enrichment were important variables explaining the variability. This study aims to contribute to our understanding of ecosystem processes and biodiversity in the Red Sea region in an area that also has the potential to provide insight into pressing topics, such as the capacity of reef systems and benthic macrofaunal organisms to adapt to global climate change.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalScientific Reports
Volume7
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 27 2017

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