Environmental factors influencing urchin spatial distributions on disturbed coral reefs (New Caledonia, South Pacific)

Abstract : Few works have examined the relative contributions of habitat variables to the distribution of coral reef urchins. In the present study, the spatial distribution of two common urchin species (Diadema setosum and Echinometra mathaei) was studied in the fringing reefs of two urban bays in New Caledonia (South Pacific). Urchins were surveyed at 105 stations with contrasted habitat structure/anthropic disturbance levels; 32 environmental variables (water/sediment characteristics, reef structuring species) were considered. Moderate densities were generally observed at station scale (mean 0.5 individuals m(-2)). The combination of univariate and multivariate techniques highlighted patchy distributions for Diadema as well as Echinometra, with distinct species/habitat associations; environmental gradients occurring within the bays did not seem to influence the species patterns. For Diadema, the spatial variability was better explained by sediment type than by biotic cover; increasing densities occurred across habitats with larger sediment sizes and decreasing coral complexity/macrophytes cover. In contrast, the distribution of E. mathaei exhibited weak relationships with habitat variables. In coral reefs, small-scale heterogeneity may thus be responsible for most of urchins spatial variability.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, January 18, 2017 - 10:17:49 AM
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Pascal Dumas, Michel Kulbicki, Sandrine Chifflet, Renaud Fichez, Jocelyne Ferraris. Environmental factors influencing urchin spatial distributions on disturbed coral reefs (New Caledonia, South Pacific). Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, Elsevier, 2007, 344, pp.88-100. ⟨10.1016/j.jembe.2006.12.015⟩. ⟨hal-01438811⟩

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