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Heterozoan carbonate-enriched beach sand and coastal dunes—with particular reference to rhodoliths, Dirk Hartog Island, Shark Bay, Western Australia

  • Adela Harvey
  • Markes E. Johnson
  • Robert Harvey
Original Article
  • 74 Downloads

Abstract

This is a preliminary interdisciplinary study on the enrichment of heterozoan carbonates on Dirk Hartog Island, Shark Bay, Western Australia, with particular reference to rhodolith (free-living non-geniculate) coralline algae. The current study aims to investigate the geological impact of shallow-water rhodoliths in Shark Bay, as well as fill critical information gaps on the biogeographical distribution of rhodoliths in Australia. We analyzed the composition of sand from eight sites (totaling 21 beach and sand dune samples) on the eastern (windward) shore of the island, and investigated the origin of the coralline algal grains. Heterozoan carbonates (shell, geniculate coralline algae grains, and rhodolith grains) together comprised 3–84% of the carbonate-enriched beach and dune sand samples. While shell fragments often comprised the highest percentage (up to 73%), rhodolith grains (up to 27%) were found in 12 of 21 samples, with rhodolith grains also occurring in two dune samples. Geologically, the study has shown that rhodoliths and rhodolith beds are important shallow-marine habitats in Shark Bay, with a proven capacity to enrich beach/dune sands in Shark Bay and potentially other areas along the Australian coast. Biogeographically, the study confirmed the presence of a previously undescribed shallow rhodolith bed in Shark Bay (the first bed documented on the Western shore) with the possibility of a third bed near Sandy Point on Dirk Hartog Island. It also confirmed the presence of rhodolith forming Neogoniolithon brassica-florida and Lithophyllum sp. in Shark Bay, and is the first record of Hydrolithon reinboldii rhodoliths in Australia.

Keywords

Heterozoan carbonate sands Shark Bay Western Australia Shallow-water rhodoliths Sand enrichment Free-living coralline algae 

Notes

Acknowledgements

Sincere thanks are due to David Holley and Sharon Drabsch, from the Shark Bay District, Department of Parks and Wildlife for sand collections and in situ photos. This manuscript would not have been possible without their help and careful data recording. Specimens were collected under Government of Western Australia, Department of Parks Wildlife permits SW016984 and CE004844. No specific grants from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors were received to enable this project, which was independently conducted.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Adela Harvey
    • 1
  • Markes E. Johnson
    • 2
  • Robert Harvey
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Ecology, Environment and EvolutionLa Trobe UniversityBundooraAustralia
  2. 2.Department of GeosciencesWilliams CollegeWilliamstownUSA

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