Title

Spatial Patterns and Ecology of Benthic Communities on a High-Latitude South Florida (Broward County, USA) Reef System

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

12-1-2003

Keywords

High-latitude reefs, Spatial patterns, Broward county, Florida, Benthic coral reef ecology

Publication Title

Coral Reefs

ISSN

0722-4028

Volume

22

Issue/No.

4

First Page

447

Last Page

464

Peer Reviewed

1

Abstract

High-latitude reef communities consisting of typical Caribbean fauna of variable composition and density exist on four parallel ridges at varying depths along the Broward County (Florida, USA) coast. Two of these ridges, at 7–13 and 15–30 m in depth, are drowned early Holocene coral reefs of 5 and 7 ky uncorrected radiocarbon age. In this study, community data were collected on each reef using 50-m, line-intercept transects. Using multivariate non-metric statistics, the data show distinct differences in benthic community structure across several spatial gradients. Diversity indices revealed that while all values were low, species diversity (H′) was consistent throughout the county, and species richness (d) and evenness (J′) increased along a north-south gradient. Scleractinian coral (27 species) cover was low (<6%) in all areas, and Montastrea cavernosa dominated as the major hermatypic scleractinian. Notably absent was the major Caribbean reef-builder Acropora palmata. A rich alcyonacean fauna was present on all studied reefs, and these were typically the most important faunal group determining community structure. Although during the 2-year period 2000–2002 mean water temperatures never fell below 20 °C, scleractinia were small in size.

Comments

©Springer-Verlag 2003

DOI

10.1007/s00338-003-0334-1

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