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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 511:105-116 (2014)  -  DOI:

Benthic Crustacea on coral reefs: a quantitative survey

M. J. Kramer1,2,*, D. R. Bellwood1,2, O. Bellwood1

1School of Marine and Tropical Biology, James Cook University, Townsville, QLD 4811, Australia
2Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University, Townsville, QLD 4811, Australia
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Benthic crustaceans are an important component of the coral reef fauna, yet our understanding of their ecological significance is incomplete. To determine the community structure, abundance, biomass and productivity of benthic Crustacea at Lizard Island, a mid-shelf reef on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia, we investigated 5 major microhabitats: dead coral, coral rubble, sand, epilithic algal matrix (EAM) and fine-branching live coral. Crustacean communities differed significantly among habitats, with the exception of dead coral and coral rubble. Dead coral was the most important microhabitat type in terms of crustacean abundance (7838 ± 628 ind. 100 cm-2, mean ± SE), biomass (0.75 ± 0.13 g m-2, wet weight) and estimated productivity (0.17 ± 0.043 g 100 cm-2 yr-1 ash free dry weight). These values were 2 to 3 orders of magnitude greater than those for the least important habitats (EAM and fine-branching live coral). Despite their abundance, the average crustacean body length was just 0.79 ± 0.32 mm, largely due to the dominance of harpacticoid copepods. In contrast, decapods exhibited very low abundances, but yielded the greatest biomass and productivity and were particularly abundant in dead coral and coral rubble. The results highlight the importance of small crustaceans and dead coral microhabitats as valuable contributors to the trophic structure of coral reefs.

KEY WORDS: Crustacea · Decapoda · Dead coral · Coral rubble · Biomass · Productivity

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Cite this article as: Kramer MJ, Bellwood DR, Bellwood O (2014) Benthic Crustacea on coral reefs: a quantitative survey. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 511:105-116.

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