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Intertidal invertebrates at Ningaloo Reef

Posted on 30 August 2011

  • University of Western Australia
  • University of Western Australia

As part of a project under WAMSI 3.2.2, a quantitative pilot study of the composition of the benthic community of macro-invertebrates on intertidal rocky platforms in the Ningaloo Marine Park (NMP) was undertaken to provide detailed information on variation in biodiversity along the length of the NMP, and to determine an appropriate monitoring design to determine levels of change.

Surveys were undertaken between July 2007 and February 2010, and 289 invertebrate taxa were identified.  Of these 289 taxa, molluscs were the most abundant (54 %), followed by cnidarians (17 %), echinoderms (11 %), and crustaceans (9 %), with the remaining 6 % taken up by other organisms (e.g. sponges, polychaetes, ascidians etc.) (Figure 1).  The mollusc group was dominated by gastropods (80 %), with bivalves (12 %) and chitons (8 %) less abundant (Figure 1).

click image for larger image view
Ningaloo invertebrate diversity

Figure 1.  Invertebrate taxa identified to species from Ningaloo intertidal platforms from WAMSI 3.2.2 Project.  Numbers in parentheses represent number of taxa, not percentages.  Data extracted from Black et al. 2011.

Of the 289 invertebrate taxa identified, 122 were identified to the species level.  The majority of species identified were considered rare (< 10 individuals found), with 1/3 of these occurring as single records within the July 2007 to February 2010 sample period.  That said, the proportion of rare species (< 10 individuals found) was the same as the proportion of abundant species (> 10 individuals found).  Using Point Cloates as a regional boundary between north and south, 42 % of the species were found along the entire NMP, 38 % were restricted to the northern MP, and 20 % were restricted to the southern MP.  Based on museum distribution records of the 122 species identified in this study, it appears that most species have ranges that extend to other parts of the Indo-Pacific, with only 3 species (Conus lischkeanus, Crassicantharus noumeensis, Drupina lobata) potentially being restricted to Ningaloo.


A species list and regional occurrence of the 122 taxa identified to species (see Excel spreadsheet below), and a photographic guide of the study sites and the majority of the 289 taxa found in this study are attached (see WAMSI 3.2.2b intertidal invertebrate identification catalogue below).


For more detailed information on this study, see Black, R, Johnson MS, Prince J, and Brearley A (2011), or contact the corresponding author, Dr Robert Black.


Dataset details

Custodian Dr Robert Black
Owner institution The University of Western Australia (http://www.uwa.edu.au/)
Spatial extent Mildura Wreck (21° 47' S, 114° 9' E) to Three Mile (23° 52' S, 113° 29' E)
Data collection July 2007 to February 2010
Copyright Copyright remains with the data owner(s)
Reference Click here