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Patterns in the use of space by benthic communities on two coral reefs of the Great Barrier Reef


A rapid benthic line-transect survey method for use by non-specialist observers is described. At both Davies Reef (mid-continental shelf) and Myrmidon Reef (outer-continental shelf) in the central Great Barrier Reef a set of 6 sites of varying depths on the reef flat, crest and slope were sampled using this method. At least 10 contiguous 10 m transects were made at each site. Benthic organisms were recorded as life forms with categories based on both high level taxa and morphologies, and including scleractinian corals, alcyonarians, sponges, algae and others. Percentage cover data for 19 benthic categories are presented for all sites. Coral cover on both reefs is high on the crest and slope but low on the reef flat. At all sites the cover of soft corals and sponges is much less than cover of hard corals and algae. Abundances of soft corals and sponges increase with depth. Analysis of gaps between hard corals show that many colonies grow close to each other (<1 cm)even when total coral cover is low.

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Reichelt, R.E., Loya, Y. & Bradbury, R.H. Patterns in the use of space by benthic communities on two coral reefs of the Great Barrier Reef. Coral Reefs 5, 73–79 (1986).

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  • Sponge
  • Coral Reef
  • Crest
  • Benthic Community
  • Great Barrier Reef