Marine sponges of the Dampier Archipelago, Western Australia: patterns of species distributions, abundance and diversity
Faculty of Computing, Health and Science
School of Computing, Health and Science
Quantitative surveys revealed high diversity (species richness) of sponges (150 species) in the previously little explored Dampier Archipelago, northwestern Australia. Classification analyses disclosed 11 station groups with high internal heterogeneity in species composition, however some spatial patterns were evident. The composition of sponge assemblages varied with environmental factors such as substrate type (coral, igneous rock, limestone rock), aspect (exposed, protected), substrate configuration (limestone platform, dissected reef) and depth. Most of the species (61%) reported from the Dampier Archipelago were rare (found at one or two stations). The number of species found at only one location was high (48%), supporting previous findings that northwestern Australia has high sponge endemism. As a result of all sponge surveys undertaken in the archipelago (qualitative and quantitative, subtidal and intertidal), 275 sponge species have now been reported from the area. This number indicates high species diversity in the region. Estimations of diversity based on non-parametric modelling suggests that there are potentially more species (range 245–346) than presently recorded in the archipelago.