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Taxonomic composition of mobile epifaunal invertebrate assemblages on diverse benthic microhabitats from temperate to tropical reefs


Fraser, KM and Stuart-Smith, RD and Ling, SD and Heather, FJ and Edgar, GJ, Taxonomic composition of mobile epifaunal invertebrate assemblages on diverse benthic microhabitats from temperate to tropical reefs, Marine Ecology - Progress Series, 640 pp. 31-43. ISSN 0171-8630 (2020) [Refereed Article]

Available from 23 April 2025

Copyright Statement

© Inter-Research 2020

DOI: doi:10.3354/meps13295


Anthropogenic drivers are flattening reef structure from 3-dimensional habitats composed of macroalgae and live branching corals towards low-profile turfing algae. Our current understanding of the consequences of widespread reef degradation currently fails to consider the responses of small mobile invertebrates (‘epifauna’) to patterns of change amongst reef structural elements (‘microhabitats’). Here, the taxonomic composition of 152 epifaunal assemblages was compared among 21 structurally diverse benthic microhabitats across an Australian temperate to tropical climatic gradient, spanning 28.6 degrees in latitude from Tasmania to the northern Great Barrier Reef. Epifauna varied consistently with different microhabitat types, and to a much lesser extent with latitude. Macroalgae, live branching coral and turfing algae represented 3 extremes for epifaunal community structure, with most microhabitats possessing epifaunal assemblages intermediate between these endpoints. Amongst structural characteristics, epifauna related primarily to the degree of branching and hardness of microhabitats. Mobile invertebrate communities are likely to transform in predictable ways with the collapse of large erect macroalgae and live coral towards low-lying turf-associated communities.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:macrofauna, habitat structure, coral, macroalgae, turf
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology)
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Marine systems and management
Objective Field:Marine biodiversity
UTAS Author:Fraser, KM (Miss Kate Fraser)
UTAS Author:Stuart-Smith, RD (Dr Rick Stuart-Smith)
UTAS Author:Ling, SD (Dr Scott Ling)
UTAS Author:Heather, FJ (Mr Freddie Heather)
UTAS Author:Edgar, GJ (Professor Graham Edgar)
ID Code:139089
Year Published:2020
Funding Support:Australian Research Council (DP170104668)
Web of Science® Times Cited:4
Deposited By:Ecology and Biodiversity
Deposited On:2020-05-26
Last Modified:2020-12-22

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