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Free Content Cavity Dwellers (Coelobites) Under Coral Rubble in Southern Belize Barrier and Atoll Reefs

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Coral rubble is the most common hard substrate on barrier and atoll reefs in southern Belize, as it is on many other reefs. Occurrence, successional patterns, colonized area and diversity of reef cavity dwellers (coelobites) living on undersides of coral rubble are different in the major reef environments. There are at least 94 species under rubble collected at 94 stations along 5 transects. Crustose coralline algae, bryozoa and polychaetes are most abundant in the deep fore reef; mollusks and non-boring sponges are most abundant in the back reef; the encrusting foraminifer Homotrema rubrum and vermetid gastropods are most abundant around the reef crest and in the shallow fore reef. Colonized area of coelobites increases seaward and is highest in the deep fore reef. Species richness and evenness are lowest at the reef crest and in the shallow fore reef and highest in the deep fore reef. Around the reef crest and in the shallow fore reef, the coelobite community is in early and intermediate stages of succession. Deep fore reef coelobite communities exhibit exclusively intermediate successional stages. In the back reef, intermediate and late stages of succession occur. Three major factors are found to control development, distribution, abundance and diversity of coelobites under rubble: (1) rubble stability, (2) flushing of sub-rubble cavities and (3) biological interactions between organisms.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 1996

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  • The Bulletin of Marine Science is dedicated to the dissemination of high quality research from the world's oceans. All aspects of marine science are treated by the Bulletin of Marine Science, including papers in marine biology, biological oceanography, fisheries, marine affairs, applied marine physics, marine geology and geophysics, marine and atmospheric chemistry, and meteorology and physical oceanography.
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