Coral Reefs

, Volume 26, Issue 1, pp 113–126 | Cite as

The structuring role of microhabitat type in coral degradation zones: a case study with marine nematodes from Kenya and Zanzibar

  • M. RaesEmail author
  • M. De Troch
  • S. G. M. Ndaro
  • A. Muthumbi
  • K. Guilini
  • A. Vanreusel


Nematode genus assemblages were identified from four locations in coral degradation zones (CDZs) along the African east coast: Watamu and Tiwi Beach (Kenya) and Matemwe and Makunduchi (Zanzibar). Three microhabitat types were distinguished: coralline sediment, coral gravel and coral fragments. Nematode community composition was comparable to that of other studies dealing with the same habitat. The presence of a common genus pool in CDZs was reflected in the considerable similarities between samples. The addition of coral fragments as a habitat for nematodes resulted in an increased importance of taxa typical for coarse sediments and large substrata. Local and regional turnover were of the same order of magnitude. The structuring effect of microhabitat type clearly overrode the effect on a local and regional scale. Differences in sediment characteristics were more important in structuring the nematode assemblages than differences between the coralline sediment and coral fragments. No effect related to the three-dimensional structure of coral fragments was found. Differences between nematode assemblages in the coralline sediment and on coral fragments were attributed to the exposed nature of the latter habitat, its large surface area and its microbial or algal cover. Differences in available food sources were reflected in nematode trophic composition.


Coral degradation zones Nematodes Microhabitats Spatial turnover Indian Ocean 



The authors wish to thank Prof Dr. Kenneth Mavuti (UONBI, Kenya), Dr. Alfonse Dubi, Dr. Desiderius C. P. Masalu and the people at the Institute of marine Sciences in Zanzibar (UDSM, Tanzania). Dr. Ann Dewicke, Drs. Tom Geerinckx, Drs. Hendrik Gheerardyn and Msc Ruth Teerlynck helped during sampling. Special thanks go to two anonymous reviewers and the editor for critically reading the manuscript and for providing many constructive remarks. The authors thank Dr. David Obura for identifying the coral fragments; Msc Sofie Derycke and Dr. Wim Bert identified the rhabditids and tylenchids. Special thanks go to Annick Van Kenhove, Danny Peelaers, Bart Beuselinck and Daniëlle Schram for technical support. Gustavo Fonseca is much acknowledged for his help in constructing the ternary graph. The first and second author acknowledge an aspirant and a postdoctoral fellow grant, respectively, from the Fund for Scientific Research (FWO-Flanders, Belgium). This research was conducted within the framework of the FWO research project G.0199.03.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Raes
    • 1
    Email author
  • M. De Troch
    • 1
  • S. G. M. Ndaro
    • 2
  • A. Muthumbi
    • 3
  • K. Guilini
    • 1
  • A. Vanreusel
    • 1
  1. 1.Marine Biology Section, Biology DepartmentGhent UniversityGentBelgium
  2. 2.Department of Aquatic Environment and ConservationUniversity of Dar Es SalaamDar Es SalaamTanzania
  3. 3.Department of ZoologyUniversity of NairobiNairobiKenya

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