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Benthic Habitats of Eastern Gulf St Vincent: Major Changes in Benthic Cover and Composition Following European Settlement of Adelaide

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Abstract:

Remote underwater video was used to collect benthic cover data at 432 sites located between Port Gawler and Sellicks Beach in eastern Gulf St Vincent, South Australia. These data were used to: (1) produce benthic habitat maps of the region, (2) compare current and historical distributions of Amphibolis and Posidonia seagrasses, and (3) assess the spatial extent of invasive Caulerpa macroalgae and the European fanworm, Sabella spallanzanii. Posidonia was the dominant seagrass across the region, with Amphibolis having a much more restricted distribution. Furthermore, the seagrass distribution and composition across much of the region can be largely explained by the selective disappearance of Amphibolis in three distinct areas since the 1930s, with each of these areas spatially linked to wastewater treatment plant outfalls (and thus elevated nutrients). On a broad scale, the invasive pest species, Caulerpa taxifolia, C. racemosa var. cylindracea, and Sabella spallanzanii, are not currently posing a threat to seagrass meadows and reefs found outside of the Port River/Barker Inlet system.

Keywords: AMPHIBOLIS; CAULERPA RACEMOSA VAR. CYLINDRACEA; CAULERPA TAXIFOLIA; HALOPHILA; MACROALGAE; POSIDONIA; SABELLA SPALLANZANII; SEAGRASS LOSS; SEAGRASSES; ZOSTERACEAE

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2009

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