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Diversity 2019, 11(2), 18; https://doi.org/10.3390/d11020018

Hyperdiverse Macrofauna Communities Associated with a Common Sponge, Stylissa carteri, Shift across Ecological Gradients in the Central Red Sea

1
Red Sea Research Center, Division of Biological and Environmental Science and Engineering, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Thuwal 23955-6900, Saudi Arabia
2
Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Washington, DC 20013-7012, USA
3
Naturalis Biodiversity Center, 2333 CR Leiden, The Netherlands
4
Environmental Biology Department, Institute of Environmental Sciences, CML, Leiden University, 2333 CC Leiden, The Netherlands
5
Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, Florida, FL 32611, USA
Current Address: School of Biological Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington 6012, New Zealand.
Current Address: Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Balboa, Ancon 03092, Panama.
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
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 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. View Full-Text
Keywords: porifera; symbiosis; biodiversity; barcoding; diversity index; invertebrates; cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI); Saudi Arabia; environmental gradient porifera; symbiosis; biodiversity; barcoding; diversity index; invertebrates; cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI); Saudi Arabia; environmental gradient
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Kandler, N.M.; Wooster, M.K.; Leray, M.; Knowlton, N.; de Voogd, N.J.; Paulay, G.; Berumen, M.L. Hyperdiverse Macrofauna Communities Associated with a Common Sponge, Stylissa carteri, Shift across Ecological Gradients in the Central Red Sea. Diversity 2019, 11, 18.

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