Kimberley marine biota. Historical data: scleractinian corals

WA Museum Records and Supplements | Updated 10 months ago

ABSTRACT – Limited information is publicly available about the coral fauna of the Kimberley region, particularly of the inshore coastal communities, and this greatly inhibits species conservation efforts. Nevertheless, sporadic coral collection events have occurred in the Kimberley over the last century, so it is important that these historical data are consolidated and made accessible. Biodiversity loss among reef corals poses a significant threat to the function and dynamics of coral reef ecosystems and to the global economy. To maximise the likelihood that coral diversity can be protected in the long term it is imperative that regional biodiversity baselines are established. Here we synthesise the existing records of shallow water (<30 m) scleractinian coral species in the Kimberley region, which are verified by specimens lodged in Australian museum collections (1880s–2009). Based on 2,420 specimen based records, collected from 70 locations, a total of 338 species of hard corals belonging to 17 families and 71 genera has been identified from Kimberley material. There are pronounced cross shelf differences in species composition with 27 species (8%) recorded only from inshore locations and 111 species (33%) recorded only at offshore locations. The inshore Kimberley coral communities are of great regional and national significance for numerous reasons, including their high diversity, inherent tolerance of harsh environmental conditions, and the opportunities they present for examining the biology and ecology of corals in the absence of anthropogenic disturbance.

Author(s) Zoe T. Richards, Alison Sampey and Loisette Marsh
Supplement 84 : Marine Biodiversity of the Kimberley 1880s–2009
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