Abundance and diversity of anemonefishes and their host sea anemones at two mesophotic sites on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia
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Anemonefishes and their host sea anemones are iconic inhabitants of coral reef ecosystems. While studies have documented their abundance in shallow-water reef habitats in parts of the Indo-Pacific, none have examined these species on mesophotic reefs. In this study, we used autonomous underwater vehicle imagery to examine the abundance and diversity of anemones and anemonefishes at Viper Reef and Hydrographers Passage in the central Great Barrier Reef at depths between 50 and 65 m. A total of 37 host sea anemones (31 Entacmaea quadricolor and 6 Heteractis crispa) and 24 anemonefishes (23 Amphiprion akindynos and 1 A. perideraion) were observed. Densities were highest at Viper Reef, with 8.48 E. quadricolor and A. akindynos per 100 m2 of reef substratum. These results support the hypothesis that mesophotic reefs have many species common to shallow-water coral reefs and that many taxa may occur at depths greater than currently recognised.
KeywordsAmphiprion Entacmaea quadricolor Heteractis crispa Depth range Mesophotic Autonomous underwater vehicle
We would like to thank crew of RV Southern Surveyor, J. Webster and R. Beaman for their work in coordinating the expedition. This project was supported by the Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS), Australia’s Marine National Facility, the National Geographic Society and the Natural Environment Research Council. We would also like to thank S. Williams and O. Pizarro for their assistance with the AUV data and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful suggestions for improving the manuscript.
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