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Coastal sponge communities of the West Indian Ocean: taxonomic affinities, richness and diversity
Barnes, D.K.A.; Bell, J.J. (2002). Coastal sponge communities of the West Indian Ocean: taxonomic affinities, richness and diversity. Afr. J. Ecol. 40(4): 337-349
In: African Journal of Ecology. Wiley: Oxford,. ISSN 0141-6707, more
Peer reviewed article  

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    Clathria Schmidt, 1862 [WoRMS]; Coelosphaera Thomson, 1873 [WoRMS]; Crambe Vosmaer, 1880 [WoRMS]; Ianthella Gray, 1869 [WoRMS]; Iotrochota Ridley, 1884 [WoRMS]; Xestospongia exigua (Kirkpatrick, 1900) [WoRMS]; ISW, West Indian Ocean [Marine Regions]; Marine

Authors  Top 
  • Barnes, D.K.A.
  • Bell, J.J.

    Sponges assemblages were sampled in four coastal study regions (Malindi, Kenya; Quirimba Archipelago, northern Mozambique; Inhaca Island, Southern Mozambique and Anakao, Madagascar) in the west Indian Ocean. Sponge species were counted in multiple 0.5 m2 quadrats at depths of between 0 and 20 m at a number of sites within localities within each region. Despite the relatively small areas sampled, sponge samples comprised a total of 130 species and 70 genera of the classes Demospongiae and Calcarea. Sponges are clearly a major taxon in these regions in terms of numbers of species, percentage cover or biomass, although their ecology in the west Indian Ocean is virtually unknown. Nearly half of the genera, e.g. Iotrochota, found were species with a so-called Tethyan distribution. Most of the other genera were cosmopolitan, e.g. Clathria, but some were cold water (Coelosphaera), Indo-Australian (Ianthella) or circum-African (Crambe). Many of the species encountered in the present study occurred in at least two study regions, many in more and could occupy large areas of substratum. Some of these, e.g. Xestospongia exigua, are commonly found throughout the Indo-west Pacific region where they also occupy much space. The endemicity of the shallow water sponge faunas in East Africa (20-25%) seem to be high within the Indo-Pacific realm but are lower than northern Papua New Guinea. The tropical regions (Kenya and Northern Mozambique) were more speciose than subtropical regions (southern Mozambique and Madagascar) but not significantly more diverse (Shannon H'). Although latitude was not a major influence on sponge community patterns, hard substratum assemblages did form a cline from the tropics to Southern Mozambique, linked by Madagascar. Substratum nature (habitat) was most important in influencing the suite and number of species present. Sponge assemblages of soft substrata were much more dissimilar, both within and between habitats, than those on hard substrata. There was a predictable variability in species richness between hard substratum habitats: coral reefs being speciose and caves being less so. Our findings showed that both patterns and influences on species richness may be decoupled from those influencing diversity. In our data species richness, but not diversity, showed striking regional and bathymetric trends. In addition, sponge species richness mainly split at coral reef vs. non-reef habitats, whilst diversity divided principally into assemblages on hard and soft substrata. We consider this dichotomy of findings between species richness and diversity values to be important, as these are two principal measures used for the interpretation of biodiversity.

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