Assessment of Regional and Local Biodiversity in Tropical and Subtropical Coastal Habitats in the East African Marine Ecoregion

The transboundary networks of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) project, TRANSMAP, assessed local turnover and regional biodiversity across the East African Marine Ecoregion, where inter-governmental co-operation has been working to connect local MPAs. The benthic fauna in the three most dominant habitats on this coastline— beaches, mangroves and seagrasses—were studied in two Regions (Northern Region, 10–13S; Southern Region, 25–28S). Meiofaunal taxa were used as the model faunal group owing to their diversity and abundance across habitat types and environmental conditions. Meiofaunal abundance averaged 2,500 individuals 10 cm-2 and was generally higher in mangrove and seagrass sediments than on the beaches, and was significantly different between habitats 9 Regions. In total, 18 taxa were recorded with highest diversity in the beach samples. Diversity indices and assemblage structure were signifi- cantly different between habitats, but also Regions. Specific granulometric 1U size classes,shore-height and number of rain days were the factors most significantly correlating with the observed assemblage patterns. Additionally, the size of a MPA and latitude (which correlated with MPA age, but not number of rain days), were the factors fitting best with meiofaunal assemblage patterns across the beaches, the habitat for which the most comprehensive data were generated. Sample diversity was higher in the Southern Region, and although within- and across-habitats diversity were similar across the Regions, the two Regions appeared to provide complementary habitats and supported different assemblages. Within the Regions, beaches (the only habitat for which more than one location was sampled) were significantly different between Locations, supporting the establishment of multiple protected locations of the same habitat within each transboundary MPA.
Beach, Benthos, Intertidal, East African Marine Ecoregion (EAME), Mangrove, Meiofauna, Sand, Seagrass, Republic of Mozambique, Republic of South Africa, United Republic of Tanzania
Barnes, N., Bamber, R.N., Bennell, G., Cornelius, N., Glassom, D., Henderson, S.C.D., Jiddawi, N., Lee, C.N., Macia, A., Msangameno, D.J. and Paula, J., 2011. Assessment of regional and local biodiversity in tropical and subtropical coastal habitats in the East African Marine Ecoregion. Biodiversity and Conservation, 20(10), pp.2075-2109.