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The marine biodiversity of the western Indian Ocean and its biogeography: how much do we know?
Richmond, M. D. (2000). The marine biodiversity of the western Indian Ocean and its biogeography: how much do we know?. Marine Education, Awareness and Biodiversity Programme MEAB/WIOMSA: [s.l.]. 241-262 pp.

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    Biodiversity; Taxonomy; ISW, West Indian Ocean [Marine Regions]; Marine

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  • Richmond, M. D.

    Prior to the 1960s the biota of the western Indian Ocean inshore marine habitats received scant attention from taxonomists resulting in a poorly known flora and fauna. Fortunately, over the last 40 years there have been considerable developments in the study of marine biodiversity in this region, both from regional scientists and by those based at institutions in Europe and elsewhere. This paper reviews the current status of taxonomic knowledge of the marine biodiversity of the western Indian Ocean, focusing on the macroflora and macrofauna of the intertidal and shallow subtidal environments. The taxonomy of many of the smaller and particularly the softer-bodied invertebrate taxa remains a challenge to specialists, and as a result these taxa continue to be inadequately known from this region. Such groups include sponges, ctenophores, octocorals, polychaetes and tunicates. There is however, considerably greater knowledge on the taxonomy and diversity of groups such as coastal plants, mangroves, seagrasses, macroalgae, scleractinian corals, most crustacean taxa, molluscs, echinoderms, fishes, reptiles and marine mammals. For some of these groups this paper provides an examination of their possible origins, the levels of regional endemism and compares their diversity with that of other provinces of the Indo-Pacific for which similar knowledge is available. Finally, the importance of continued taxonomic research in the region is discussed, in light of the current threats to marine biodiversity, and the need to make the information which is currently available on the western Indian Ocean marine diversity more accessible to decision makers and to the public in general.

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