Patterns in the distribution of coral communities across the central Great Barrier Reef
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- Done, T.J. Coral Reefs (1982) 1: 95. doi:10.1007/BF00301691
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Despite the pre-eminence of the Great Barrier Reef, there has been little systematic description of its biotic communities, and in particular, of the corals themselves. Only recently have the problems of coral taxonomy been sufficiently resolved to allow a beginning to be made in rectifying this deficiency. The present study describes seventeen assemblages of corals which occupy the major habitat types found in and near the central Great Barrier Reef. The habitats studied range from the wave swept reef flats of Coral Sea atolls to the slopes of small reefs occupying sheltered, muddy conditions near the coast. These, and the array of reefs between, have characteristic suites of coral communities which provide the basis for a classification of reefs into non-Acropora reefs and various Acropora reefs. It is speculated that the faunistic differences are maintained because reefs are primarily self-seeded and because the majority of larvae from external sources are of species which are already present. The greatest diversity of both species and community types was found on reefs near the middle of the continental shelf, while the oceanic atolls and nearshore silt-affected reefs are almost equally depauperate.