Marine Biology

, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 100–123 | Cite as

Community structure and species diversity of hermatypic corals at Eilat, Red Sea



This study investigates the community structure of reefbulding corals in terms of species composition, zonation and diversity patterns, as well as possible factors affecting the observed distributions. The study was carried out by a series of line transects run underwater with SCUBA apparatus from the reef flat to a depth of 30 m. The reefs of Eilat are of the fringing type, with seleractinian corals as the most important hermatypic organisms. The different zones of the reef are analyzed on the basis of topographical characteristics of the reef, as well as from the numerical data on abundance and living coverage, using cluster analysis of all transects surveyed. The present knowledge concerning species diversity is reviewed and analyzed in the context of hermatypic coral data. Three different diversity indices (the species count, Simpson's index and Shannon and Weaver's index) were calculated for estimating the diversity obtained on different zones of the reef. It was found that there is a successive increase in diversity of hermatypic corals from shallow water to a depth of 30 m. Species diversity and living voverage of corals were significantly greater in steeper zones as compared to flatter zones of the reef. A possible explanation for this phenomenon is the accumulation of sediments in the flat zones. It is proposed that the severe and umpredictable nature of the reef flat may account for low abundance and living coverage of corals. It is also proposed that deep-water species which do not invade shallow water are species which have developed high specialization to their local environment. The idea that light intensity is a significant factor in calcium-carbonate deposition by scleractinian corals is supported by field measurements of individual colonies at different depths.


Community Structure Shallow Water Species Diversity Reef Flat Line Transect 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1972

Authors and Affiliations

  • Y. Loya
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesState University of New York at Stony BrookStony BrookUSA
  2. 2.Woods Hole Oceanographic InstitutionWoods HoleUSA

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