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Diversity, Volume 11, Issue 2 (February 2019)

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Cover Story (view full-size image) In coral reefs, one of the most prevalent and striking gradients in the structure of reef [...] Read more.
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Open AccessArticle Lichens and Bromeliads as Bioindicators of Heavy Metal Deposition in Ecuador
Diversity 2019, 11(2), 28; https://doi.org/10.3390/d11020028
Received: 19 December 2018 / Revised: 19 February 2019 / Accepted: 21 February 2019 / Published: 25 February 2019
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Abstract
We evaluated heavy metal deposition in Parmotrema arnoldii and Tillandsia usneoides in response to air pollution in Loja city, Ecuador. We assessed heavy metal (cadmium, copper, manganese, lead and zinc) content in these organisms at nine study sites inside Loja city and three [...] Read more.
We evaluated heavy metal deposition in Parmotrema arnoldii and Tillandsia usneoides in response to air pollution in Loja city, Ecuador. We assessed heavy metal (cadmium, copper, manganese, lead and zinc) content in these organisms at nine study sites inside Loja city and three control sites in nearby forests. Concentrations of all studied heavy metals (i.e., cadmium (Cd), copper (Cu), lead (Pb), manganese (Mn) and zinc (Zn)) were highest in downtown Loja. Our study confirms that passive monitoring using lichens and/or bromeliads can be an efficient tool to evaluate heavy metal deposition related to urbanization (e.g., vehicle emissions). We recommend these organisms to be used in cost-effective monitoring of air pollution in tropical countries. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Lichen Diversity and Biomonitoring)
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Open AccessArticle Natural Regeneration of the Mangrove Vegetation on Abandoned Salt Ponds in Ceará, in the Semi-Arid Region of Northeastern Brazil
Diversity 2019, 11(2), 27; https://doi.org/10.3390/d11020027
Received: 5 December 2018 / Revised: 14 February 2019 / Accepted: 15 February 2019 / Published: 23 February 2019
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Abstract
The development of the mangrove in Ceará state, northeastern Brazil, is limited by local environmental and climatic factors, associated with the variables that determine the region’s semi-arid climatic conditions. The same conditions also contribute to the installation of artisanal saltworks in estuarine environments. [...] Read more.
The development of the mangrove in Ceará state, northeastern Brazil, is limited by local environmental and climatic factors, associated with the variables that determine the region’s semi-arid climatic conditions. The same conditions also contribute to the installation of artisanal saltworks in estuarine environments. The artisanal production of salt peaked in the 20th century, but with the decline of this activity, the salt evaporation ponds were abandoned, and have been incorporated back into the natural marine-estuarine environment and colonized by mangrove forests. In the early 2000s, however, the expansion of shrimp farming operations impacted this same environment. The present study was based on a spatiotemporal analysis of the natural regeneration of the mangrove vegetation in abandoned salt pond areas in the Brazilian semi-arid region between 1968 and 2009. The integrated analysis of mangrove ecosystem dynamics and the legislation that regulates the licensing of these economic activities identified a number of technical problems in the formulation and execution of the COEMA resolution 02/2002, which permits the installation of shrimp farms in areas dominated by the mangrove. The findings of the present study reinforce the need for a careful reformulation of the Ceará state environmental legislation, in order to guarantee the maximum possible conservation of the coastal zone. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mangrove Regeneration and Restoration)
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Open AccessArticle Deep-Reef Fish Communities of the Great Barrier Reef Shelf-Break: Trophic Structure and Habitat Associations
Diversity 2019, 11(2), 26; https://doi.org/10.3390/d11020026
Received: 31 December 2018 / Revised: 11 February 2019 / Accepted: 11 February 2019 / Published: 20 February 2019
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Abstract
The ecology of habitats along the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) shelf-break has rarely been investigated. Thus, there is little understanding of how associated fishes interact with deeper environments. We examined relationships between deep-reef fish communities and benthic habitat structure. We sampled 48 sites [...] Read more.
The ecology of habitats along the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) shelf-break has rarely been investigated. Thus, there is little understanding of how associated fishes interact with deeper environments. We examined relationships between deep-reef fish communities and benthic habitat structure. We sampled 48 sites over a large depth gradient (54–260 m) in the central GBR using Baited Remote Underwater Video Stations and multibeam sonar. Fish community composition differed both among multiple shelf-break reefs and habitats within reefs. Epibenthic cover decreased with depth. Deep epibenthic cover included sponges, corals, and macro-algae, with macro-algae present to 194 m. Structural complexity decreased with depth, with more calcified reef, boulders, and bedrock in shallower depths. Deeper sites were flatter and more homogeneous with softer substratum. Habitats were variable within depth strata and were reflected in different fish assemblages among sites and among locations. Overall, fish trophic groups changed with depth and included generalist and benthic carnivores, piscivores, and planktivores while herbivores were rare below 50 m. While depth influenced where trophic groups occurred, site orientation and habitat morphology determined the composition of trophic groups within depths. Future conservation strategies will need to consider the vulnerability of taxa with narrow distributions and habitat requirements in unique shelf-break environments. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Ontogenetic Habitat Usage of Juvenile Carnivorous Fish Among Seagrass-Coral Mosaic Habitats
Diversity 2019, 11(2), 25; https://doi.org/10.3390/d11020025
Received: 27 December 2018 / Revised: 11 February 2019 / Accepted: 15 February 2019 / Published: 18 February 2019
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Abstract
Seagrass beds and coral reefs are both considered critical habitats for reef fishes, and in tropical coastal regions, they often grow together to form “mosaic” habitats. Although reef fishes clearly inhabit such structurally complex environments, there is little known about their habitat usage [...] Read more.
Seagrass beds and coral reefs are both considered critical habitats for reef fishes, and in tropical coastal regions, they often grow together to form “mosaic” habitats. Although reef fishes clearly inhabit such structurally complex environments, there is little known about their habitat usage in seagrass-coral mosaic habitats. The goal of this study was to examine potential factors that drive habitat usage pattern by juvenile reef fishes. We quantified (1) prey availability, (2) potential competitors, and 3) predators across a gradient of mosaic habitats (n = 4 habitat types) for four dominant carnivorous fishes (lethrinids and lutjanids) in the main recruitment season at Dongsha Island, South China Sea. We found that the coral-dominated habitats had not only a higher availability of large crustacean prey but also a higher abundance of competitors and predators of juvenile fishes. Food availability was the most important factor underlying the habitat usage pattern by lethrinids and lutjanids through ontogeny. The predation pressure exhibited a strong impact on small juvenile lethrinids but not on larger juveniles and lutjanids. The four juvenile fishes showed distinct habitat usage patterns through ontogeny. Collectively, mosaic habitats in the back reef system may be linked to key ontogenetic shifts in the early life histories of reef fishes between seagrass beds and coral reefs. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Mitochondrial Genomes from New Zealand’s Extinct Adzebills (Aves: Aptornithidae: Aptornis) Support a Sister-Taxon Relationship with the Afro-Madagascan Sarothruridae
Diversity 2019, 11(2), 24; https://doi.org/10.3390/d11020024
Received: 4 December 2018 / Revised: 25 January 2019 / Accepted: 28 January 2019 / Published: 15 February 2019
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Abstract
The recently extinct New Zealand adzebills (Aptornithidae, Aptornis spp.) were an enigmatic group of large flightless birds that have long eluded precise taxonomic assignment as they do not closely resemble any extant birds. Adzebills were nearly wingless, weighed approximately 16–19 kg, and possessed [...] Read more.
The recently extinct New Zealand adzebills (Aptornithidae, Aptornis spp.) were an enigmatic group of large flightless birds that have long eluded precise taxonomic assignment as they do not closely resemble any extant birds. Adzebills were nearly wingless, weighed approximately 16–19 kg, and possessed massive adze-like reinforced bills whose function remains unknown. Using hybridisation enrichment and high-throughput sequencing of DNA extracted from subfossil bone and eggshell, near-complete mitochondrial genomes were successfully assembled from the two Quaternary adzebill species: the North Island Adzebill (Aptornis otidiformis) and South Island Adzebill (A. defossor). Molecular phylogenetic analyses confirm that adzebills are members of the Ralloidea (rails and allies) and are sister-taxon to the Sarothruridae, which our results suggest comprises the Madagascan wood rails (Mentocrex, two likely sp.) in addition to the tiny (<50 gram) rail-like Afro-Madagascan flufftails (Sarothrura, 9 spp.). Node age estimates indicate that the split between adzebills and Sarothruridae occurred ~39.6 Ma, suggesting that the ancestors of the adzebills arrived in New Zealand by long-distance dispersal rather than continental vicariance. This newly identified biogeographic link between physically distant New Zealand and Afro-Madagascar, echoed by the relationship between the New Zealand kiwi (Apterygiformes) and Madagascan elephant-birds (Aepyornithiformes), suggests that the adzebill’s near relatives were formerly more widespread. In addition, our estimate for the divergence time between the two Quaternary adzebill species (0.2–2.3 Ma) coincides with the emergence of a land-bridge between the North and South islands of New Zealand (ca. 1.5–2 Ma). This relatively recent divergence suggests that North Island adzebills are the result of a relatively recent dispersal from the South Island, from which the earliest (Miocene) adzebill fossil has been described. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genomic Analyses of Avian Evolution)
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Open AccessArticle Cross-Shelf Differences in the Response of Herbivorous Fish Assemblages to Severe Environmental Disturbances
Diversity 2019, 11(2), 23; https://doi.org/10.3390/d11020023
Received: 2 January 2019 / Revised: 31 January 2019 / Accepted: 11 February 2019 / Published: 13 February 2019
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Abstract
Cross-shelf differences in coral reef benthic and fish assemblages are common, yet it is unknown whether these assemblages respond uniformly to environmental disturbances or whether local conditions result in differential responses of assemblages at different shelf positions. Here, we compare changes in the [...] Read more.
Cross-shelf differences in coral reef benthic and fish assemblages are common, yet it is unknown whether these assemblages respond uniformly to environmental disturbances or whether local conditions result in differential responses of assemblages at different shelf positions. Here, we compare changes in the taxonomic and functional composition, and associated traits, of herbivorous reef fish assemblages across a continental shelf, five years before and six months after two severe cyclones and a thermal bleaching event that resulted in substantial and widespread loss of live hard coral cover. Each shelf position maintained a distinct taxonomic assemblage of fishes after disturbances, but the assemblages shared fewer species among shelf positions. There was a substantial loss of species richness following disturbances within each shelf position. Total biomass of the herbivorous fish assemblage increased after disturbances on mid- and outer-shelf reefs, but not on inner-shelf reefs. Using trait-based analyses, we found there was a loss of trait richness at each shelf position, but trait specialisation and originality increased on inner-shelf reefs. This study highlights the pervasiveness of extreme environmental disturbances on ecological assemblages. Whilst distinct cross-shelf assemblages can remain following environmental disturbances, assemblages have reduced richness and are potentially more vulnerable to chronic localised stresses. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Boreal Sand Hills are Areas of High Diversity for Boreal Ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)
Diversity 2019, 11(2), 22; https://doi.org/10.3390/d11020022
Received: 11 December 2018 / Revised: 23 January 2019 / Accepted: 31 January 2019 / Published: 8 February 2019
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Abstract
The boreal forest in Canada comprises a wide variety of ecosystems, including stabilized (overgrown) sand dunes, often referred to as sand hills. Globally, sandy soils are known for supporting a high diversity of invertebrates, including ants, but little is known for boreal systems. [...] Read more.
The boreal forest in Canada comprises a wide variety of ecosystems, including stabilized (overgrown) sand dunes, often referred to as sand hills. Globally, sandy soils are known for supporting a high diversity of invertebrates, including ants, but little is known for boreal systems. We used pitfall trap sampling in sand hill, aspen parkland and peatland ecosystems to compare their ant diversity and test the prediction that areas with sandy soils have higher invertebrate diversity compared to more mesic/organic soils. Overall, sand hills had ~45% more ant species compared to other sampled ecosystems from Alberta. Similar to other studies, local canopy cover within sand hills was found to be inversely related to ant species richness and diversity. Although sand hills are rare across the region, they are high biodiversity areas for ants, with the sand hills of north-central Alberta having higher species richness of ants compared to other studied areas in Canada. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Spatial Patterns and Short-term Changes of Coral Assemblages Along a Cross-shelf Gradient in the Southwestern Lagoon of New Caledonia
Diversity 2019, 11(2), 21; https://doi.org/10.3390/d11020021
Received: 5 December 2018 / Revised: 29 January 2019 / Accepted: 1 February 2019 / Published: 5 February 2019
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Abstract
Coral reef assemblages generally form gradients of spatial structures which are governed by a variety of interacting physical and biological processes that vary in intensity, frequency, and spatial scale. Assessing the structure of contemporary reef assemblages may help to understand future changes and [...] Read more.
Coral reef assemblages generally form gradients of spatial structures which are governed by a variety of interacting physical and biological processes that vary in intensity, frequency, and spatial scale. Assessing the structure of contemporary reef assemblages may help to understand future changes and to identify appropriate conservation actions. The spatial distribution and interannual variability (from 2006 to 2008) of coral assemblages were investigated at 10 stations in the southwestern lagoon of New Caledonia, and the strength of the cross-shelf gradient was evaluated. Coral cover, generic richness, and abundance of adult and juvenile assemblages were highly variable within and among the three major reef habitats (fringing, mid-shelf, and barrier reefs). Abundance increased with distance from shore, whereas generic richness and cover were not correlated with shelf position. Assemblage composition was generally related to habitat, even though some mid-shelf and fringing reef assemblages resembled those observed on other habitats. A significant correlation between juvenile and adult distributions was recorded, suggesting that adult assemblages are partly controlled by the short-term history of recruitment patterns. The interannual variation of coral assemblages was far less pronounced, with significant changes only detected at some mid-shelf and barrier reefs, for a few genera characterised by high turn-over. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Investigation of the Peninsula Effect Using the Latitudinal Abundance Pattern for Tree Species in Florida
Diversity 2019, 11(2), 20; https://doi.org/10.3390/d11020020
Received: 29 November 2018 / Revised: 25 January 2019 / Accepted: 28 January 2019 / Published: 1 February 2019
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Abstract
The peninsula effect is a biological diversity pattern found in peninsulas in which the number of species decreases toward the tip of the peninsula. The geometry hypothesis, as one proposed cause of the peninsula effect, attempts to predict this pattern by examining the [...] Read more.
The peninsula effect is a biological diversity pattern found in peninsulas in which the number of species decreases toward the tip of the peninsula. The geometry hypothesis, as one proposed cause of the peninsula effect, attempts to predict this pattern by examining the peculiarities of peninsular geometry. As peninsulas are characterized by their isolated positions, it has been suggested that a decreased immigration-to-extinction rate is the cause of the decrease in species diversity from the base to the tip of a peninsula. We aimed to test the geometry hypothesis on tree species in the Florida peninsula by modeling the latitudinal abundance pattern using sample-based tree inventory data. We postulated that the current abundance distribution of a species is a ramification of past immigration–extinction dynamics in a peninsula, as well as an important indicator of such dynamics in the future. The latitudinal abundance patterns of 113 tree species in Florida in the southeastern United States were simulated with the Huisman–Olff–Fresco (HOF) model using the USDA Forest Service’s Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) database. Evidence species for the geometry hypothesis were then selected if the simulated latitudinal abundance pattern was asymmetric with its abundance maxima occurring within the Florida peninsula (i.e., approximately 31.5° latitude or lower). Our HOF model results found that most species (87% of 113 species) did not experience any steep abundance decline along the Florida peninsula when compared with their general trend across the range, suggesting that the observed diversity pattern of tree species in Florida could merely be a continuation of latitudinal diversity gradients in the southeastern United States, independent of peninsular geometry. Full article
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Open AccessArticle The Effects of Temperature on the Turnover of δ18O and δD in Juvenile Corn Snakes (Elaphe guttata): A Novel Study with Ecological Implications
Diversity 2019, 11(2), 19; https://doi.org/10.3390/d11020019
Received: 30 November 2018 / Revised: 24 January 2019 / Accepted: 27 January 2019 / Published: 30 January 2019
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Abstract
The use of natural variation in stable isotope ratios continues to be used in ecological studies without proper validation through laboratory studies. This study tested the effects of temperature, time, and turnover in the scales of juvenile corn snakes (Elaphe guttata) [...] Read more.
The use of natural variation in stable isotope ratios continues to be used in ecological studies without proper validation through laboratory studies. This study tested the effects of temperature, time, and turnover in the scales of juvenile corn snakes (Elaphe guttata) in a controlled, laboratory environment. Snakes were assigned to four treatment groups (24 °C, 27 °C, 30 °C, and freely thermoregulating), and one snake from each group was sacrificed weekly. Scales from each snake were washed, dried, and analyzed for δD and δ18O at the Stable Isotope Research Facility for Environmental Research at the University of Utah. The effects of temperature on the turnover of tissues was only significant when comparing the thermoregulating group to the pooled treatment groups (24 °C, 27 °C, and 30 °C) in the δ18O of scales (p = 0.006). After normalizing data on the δD and δ18O using percent change for comparison, δ18O appeared to be turning over at a faster rate than δD as indicated by an analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) test for homogeneity of slopes (F1,53 = 69.7, p < 0.001). With further testing of assumptions, a modification of our methods could provide information on the composition of drinking water sources in a species that switches between two isotopically distinct sources, such as during seasonal shifts in habitat or migration, and/or estimates of long-term field metabolic rates based on the turnover of these isotopes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Stable Isotopes in Ecological Research)
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Open AccessArticle Hyperdiverse Macrofauna Communities Associated with a Common Sponge, Stylissa carteri, Shift across Ecological Gradients in the Central Red Sea
Diversity 2019, 11(2), 18; https://doi.org/10.3390/d11020018
Received: 31 December 2018 / Revised: 23 January 2019 / Accepted: 24 January 2019 / Published: 29 January 2019
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Abstract
Sponges act as important microhabitats in the marine environment and promote biodiversity by harboring a wide variety of macrofauna, but little is known about the magnitude and patterns of diversity of sponge-associated communities. This study uses DNA barcoding to examine the macrofaunal communities [...] Read more.
Sponges act as important microhabitats in the marine environment and promote biodiversity by harboring a wide variety of macrofauna, but little is known about the magnitude and patterns of diversity of sponge-associated communities. This study uses DNA barcoding to examine the macrofaunal communities associated with Stylissa carteri in the central Saudi Arabian Red Sea, an understudied ecosystem with high biodiversity and endemism. In total, 146 operational taxonomic units (OTUs) were distinguished from 938 successfully-sequenced macrofauna individuals from 99 sponges. A significant difference was found in the macrofaunal community composition of S. carteri along a cross-shelf gradient using OTU abundance (Bray–Curtis dissimilarity index), with more amphipods associated with offshore sponges and more brittle stars and fishes associated with inshore sponges. The abundance of S. carteri also showed a gradient, increasing with proximity to shore. However, no significant differences in macrofaunal community composition or total macrofauna abundance were observed between exposed and sheltered sides of the reefs and there was no significant change in total macrofauna abundance along the inshore–offshore gradient. As climate change and ocean acidification continue to impact coral reef ecosystems, understanding the ecology of sponges and their role as microhabitats may become more important for understanding their full ramifications for biodiversity. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Algal Epibionts as Co-Engineers in Mussel Beds: Effects on Abiotic Conditions and Mobile Interstitial Invertebrates
Diversity 2019, 11(2), 17; https://doi.org/10.3390/d11020017
Received: 3 January 2019 / Revised: 22 January 2019 / Accepted: 24 January 2019 / Published: 29 January 2019
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Abstract
Mussels and macroalgae have long been recognized as physical ecosystem engineers that modulate abiotic conditions and resources and affect the composition of rocky shore assemblages. Their spatial distributions in the intertidal zone frequently overlap, as many algal species thrive as epibionts on mussel [...] Read more.
Mussels and macroalgae have long been recognized as physical ecosystem engineers that modulate abiotic conditions and resources and affect the composition of rocky shore assemblages. Their spatial distributions in the intertidal zone frequently overlap, as many algal species thrive as epibionts on mussel beds. Nonetheless, their potential for combined engineering effects has not been addressed to date. Here we illustrate that Porphyra sp.—a desiccation-resistant macroalga that develops mostly epiphytically onto mussel beds—affects temperature, desiccation levels, and mobile interstitial invertebrates in mussel beds. Specifically, we observed that Porphyra cover (a) reduced temperature at the surface of the mussel bed but not at their base, (b) reduced desiccation both at the surface and base of the mussel bed and, (c) increased the densities of an abundant interstitial species—the amphipod Hyale grandicornis—in several study sites/dates. Additionally, we found that the positive responses of these grazing amphipods to Porphyra were driven by physical habitat modification (engineering) rather than food availability. This suggests that co-engineering by Porphyra and mussels generates abiotic states and focal species responses that would not be predictable from their individual effects. We expect that increased appreciation of co-engineering aids our understanding of complex ecological dynamics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Diversity of Ecosystem Engineers in the World Coasts and Oceans)
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Open AccessCommunication Replacement Names for Elwoodius Clarke & Oberprieler and Platychirus Clarke & Oberprieler (Coleoptera: Curculionoidea: Mesophyletidae)
Diversity 2019, 11(2), 16; https://doi.org/10.3390/d11020016
Received: 14 January 2019 / Revised: 18 January 2019 / Accepted: 19 January 2019 / Published: 22 January 2019
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Abstract
In a recent paper we published on the weevil fauna preserved in Burmese amber, two newly proposed generic names were subsequently identified as preoccupied names (Elwoodius Clarke & Oberprieler and Platychirus Clarke & Oberprieler). We propose the name Zimmiorhinus as a replacement [...] Read more.
In a recent paper we published on the weevil fauna preserved in Burmese amber, two newly proposed generic names were subsequently identified as preoccupied names (Elwoodius Clarke & Oberprieler and Platychirus Clarke & Oberprieler). We propose the name Zimmiorhinus as a replacement name for Elwoodius Clarke & Oberprieler and Burmophyletis as a replacement name for Platychirus Clarke & Oberprieler. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Systematics and Phylogeny of Weevils)
Open AccessArticle Cross-shelf Heterogeneity of Coral Assemblages in Northwest Australia
Diversity 2019, 11(2), 15; https://doi.org/10.3390/d11020015
Received: 14 December 2018 / Revised: 14 January 2019 / Accepted: 17 January 2019 / Published: 22 January 2019
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Abstract
Understanding the spatial and temporal distribution of coral assemblages and the processes structuring those patterns is fundamental to managing reef assemblages. Cross-shelf marine systems exhibit pronounced and persistent gradients in environmental conditions; however, these gradients are not always reliable predictors of coral distribution [...] Read more.
Understanding the spatial and temporal distribution of coral assemblages and the processes structuring those patterns is fundamental to managing reef assemblages. Cross-shelf marine systems exhibit pronounced and persistent gradients in environmental conditions; however, these gradients are not always reliable predictors of coral distribution or the degree of stress that corals are experiencing. This study used information from government, industry and scientific datasets spanning 1980–2017, to explore temporal trends in coral cover in the geographically complex system of the Dampier Archipelago, northwest Australia. Coral composition at 15 sites surveyed in 2017 was also modelled against environmental and spatial variables (including turbidity, degree heat weeks, wave exposure, and distance to land/mainland/isobath) to assess their relative importance in structuring coral assemblages. High spatial and temporal heterogeneity was observed in coral cover and recovery trajectories, with reefs located an intermediate distance from the shore maintaining high cover over the past 20 years. The abundance of some prominent genera in 2017 (Acropora, Porites, and Turbinaria spp.) decreased with the distance from the mainland, suggesting that inshore processes play an important role in dictating the distribution of these genera. The atypical distributions of these key reef-building corals and spatial heterogeneity of historical recovery trajectories highlight the risks in making assumptions regarding cross-shelf patterns in geographically complex systems. Full article
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