Structure of benthic communities along the Taiwan latitudinal gradient

Ribas-Deulofeu, Lauriane, Denis, Vianney, De Palmas, Stéphane, Kuo, Chao-Yang, Hsieh, Hernyi Justin, and Chen, Chaolun Allen (2016) Structure of benthic communities along the Taiwan latitudinal gradient. PLoS ONE, 11 (8). e0160601. pp. 1-19.

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The distribution and the structure of benthic assemblages vary with latitude. However, few studies have described benthic communities along large latitudinal gradients, and patterns of variation are not fully understood. Taiwan, lying between 21.90 degrees N and 25.30 degrees N, is located at the center of the Philippine-Japan arc and lies at the northern margin of coral reef development. A wide range of habitats is distributed along this latitudinal gradient, from extensive fringing coral reefs at the southern coast to non-reefal communities at the north. In this study, we examined the structure of benthic communities around Taiwan, by comparing its assemblages in four regions, analyzing the effects of the latitudinal gradient, and highlighting regional characteristics. A total of 25 sites, 125 transects, and 2,625 photographs were used to analyze the benthic communities. Scleractinian corals present an obvious gradient of increasing diversity from north to south, whereas macro-algae diversity is higher on the north-eastern coast. At the country scale, Taiwanese coral communities were dominated by turf algae (49%). At the regional scale, we observed an important heterogeneity that may be caused by local disturbances and habitat degradation that smooths out regional differences. In this context, our observations highlight the importance of managing local stressors responsible for reef degradation. Overall, this study provides an important baseline upon which future changes in benthic assemblages around Taiwan can be assessed.

Item ID: 45950
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1932-6203
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Copyright: © 2016 Ribas-Deulofeu et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Funders: Academia Sinica (AS), Ministry of Science and Technology of Taiwan (MSTT), National Science Council, Taiwan, Taiwan International Graduate Program, Aide a la Mobilite Internationale des Etudiants, France
Projects and Grants: AS AS-100-TP2- A02-3, AS-104-SS-A03, MSTT 104-2611-M-002-020-MY2
Date Deposited: 05 Oct 2016 07:46
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310302 Community ecology (excl. invasive species ecology) @ 50%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310305 Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology) @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
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