Helgoländer Meeresuntersuchungen

, Volume 39, Issue 4, pp 419–440

Quantitative Analyse von Korallengemeinschaften des Sanganeb-Atolls (mittleres Rotes Meer). II. Vergleich mit einem Riffareal bei Aqaba (nördliches Rotes Meer) am Nordrande des indopazifischen Riffgürtels

  • H. Schuhmacher
  • H. Mergner

DOI: 10.1007/BF01987411

Cite this article as:
Schuhmacher, H. & Mergner, H. Helgolander Meeresunters (1985) 39: 419. doi:10.1007/BF01987411

Quantitative analysis of coral communities of Sanganeb-Atoll (central Red Sea). II. Comparison with a reef area near Aqaba (northern Red Sea) at the northern margin of the Indopacific reef-belt


Quantitative studies of coral communities in the central and northern Red Sea were designed for comparison of the community structure in both areas. The central Red Sea provides reef-building Scleractinia and reef-inhabiting Alcyonaria with optimal temperature conditions, whereas the north tip of the Gulf of Aqaba (29°30′ N) represents the northernmost outpost of coral reefs in the Indian Ocean. It is generally assumed that coral diversity decreases towards the margins of the global reef-belt. In the Red Sea, generic diversity of hermatypic Scleractinia slightly decreases from the central to the northern part (51 : 48 genera); but cnidarian species abundance (species number per 25 m2 area) was found to increase from 62 to 98 species and the Shannon-Wiener diversity index increased from 2.58 to 3.67 with regard to colony number. The mean colony size was 189 cm2 at Sanganeb-Atoll, but only 52 cm2 at Aqaba. The mean numbers of colonies were inversely related: 662 per 25 m2 at Sanganeb-Atoll and 2028 at Aqaba. Uninhabited parts of the studied areas amounted to 47 % at Sanganeb-Atoll and to 56 % at Aqaba. The community structure of the studied areas indicates that occasional perturbations prevent the progress of the community towards a low-diversity equilibrium state. Since severe hydrodynamic damage is extremely rare in 10 m depth, major disturbances may occur by sedimentation, by the interference of grazers (e. g.Diadema setosum) and due to overgrowth by space-competitors (mainly soft corals). These events are to be regarded as throwbacks in the process of monopolization of the area by well adapted species. Recovery from such perturbations (i.e. recolonization of dead areas) obviously takes place at different velocities in the northern and central Red Sea, for the mean water temperature at Aqaba is 5 °C lower than in the central Red Sea. Hence the process of taking over a given space by a few species proceeds further in the central Red Sea than at its northern end. The increase in diversity per area towards high latitudes is comparable to that with depth. It is concluded from the great number of species at Aqaba that these reefs mark the northernmost outpost of the Indian Ocean only geographically but not ecophysiologically; they would occur at even higher latitudes, if the Gulf of Aqaba extended farther north.

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Copyright information

© Biologische Anstalt Helgoland 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. Schuhmacher
    • 1
  • H. Mergner
    • 2
  1. 1.Universität GHS Essen, Lehrstuhl für HydrobiologieEssenBundesrepublik Deutschland
  2. 2.Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Lehrstuhl für Spezielle ZoologieBochumBundesrepublik Deutschland

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