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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 687:79-93 (2022)  -  DOI:

Macro- and microhabitat use patterns of holothurians in Buena Vista, Nggela, Solomon Islands: rock climber and bottom crawler species

Iwao Tanita1,2,*, Edward Brown Hirohavi3,4, Billy Anthony Diau3, Kunihiko Masaki2, Toru Komatsu2,3, Christain Ramofafia3

1Yaeyama Field Station, Fisheries Technology Institute, Japan Fisheries Research and Education Agency, Ishigaki-shi, Okinawa 9070451, Japan
2Overseas Fishery Cooperation Foundation of Japan, Minato-ku, Tokyo 1050001, Japan
3Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Solomon Islands Government, Honiara, Solomon Islands
4Nagotano Community Marine Protected Area Monitor Members, Nggela, Central Province, Solomon Islands
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Densities and habitat use patterns of holothurians, including nocturnal species, were assessed in Buena Vista, Nggela, Solomon Islands, for community-based resource management. Nighttime snorkeling surveys were conducted along transects (maximum 1.6 km) with 3 to 5 searchers in nearshore, channel, and outer reef macrohabitats. Only the population in the seagrass macrohabitat was separately assessed in 30 m line transects during the daytime. Microhabitats were clearly separated between species living on 3-dimensional structures (e.g. surfaces of knolls and reef slopes; rock climber group) and those on flat bottoms (bottom crawler group), although they coexisted at macrohabitat scales. Potential shelters adjacent to each individual differed between the 2 groups. Among bottom crawler species, Bohadschia koellikeri, which was recently taxonomically divided from B. vitiensis, occupied macrohabitats intermediately ranging between those of B. argus in the channel and outer reef macrohabitats and those of B. vitiensis and B. marmorata in the nearshore and seagrass macrohabitats. The high-density population was observed in the seagrass macrohabitat, mainly composed of Holothuria scabra, B. marmorata, and H. fuscogilva, although most individuals of these species were smaller than the national legal size limits. Moreover, the body lengths of H. atra and H. fuscogilva increased from the seagrass macrohabitat to the outer reef macrohabitat, implying their migration during growth and the roles of seagrass areas as nurseries. These results revealed diversity of macro- and microhabitat use patterns among species and their growth stages and highlight the importance of considering these factors for conserving diverse species by areal-based protection measures.

KEY WORDS: Habitats · Holothuroidea · Bêche-de-mer · Distributions · Community-based resource management

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Cite this article as: Tanita I, Hirohavi EB, Diau BA, Masaki K, Komatsu T, Ramofafia C (2022) Macro- and microhabitat use patterns of holothurians in Buena Vista, Nggela, Solomon Islands: rock climber and bottom crawler species. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 687:79-93.

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