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Coral Reefs at the Northernmost Tip of Borneo: An Assessment of Scleractinian Species Richness Patterns and Benthic Reef Assemblages.

Waheed Z, van Mil HG, Syed Hussein MA, Jumin R, Golam Ahad B, Hoeksema BW - PLoS ONE (2015)

Bottom Line: Only 7% of the examined reefs had > 75% hard coral cover, while the majority of the reef sites were rated fair (51%) and good (38%).Sites with low coral cover and high rubble fragments are evidence of blast fishing, although the observed damage appeared old.Depth was a dominant factor in influencing the coral species composition and benthic reef communities in the TMP.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Marine Zoology, Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Leiden, The Netherlands.

ABSTRACT
The coral reefs at the northernmost tip of Sabah, Borneo will be established under a marine protected area: the Tun Mustapha Park (TMP) by the end of 2015. This area is a passage where the Sulu Sea meets the South China Sea and it is situated at the border of the area of maximum marine biodiversity, the Coral Triangle. The TMP includes fringing and patch reefs established on a relatively shallow sea floor. Surveys were carried out to examine features of the coral reefs in terms of scleractinian species richness, and benthic reef assemblages following the Reef Check substrate categories, with emphasis on hard coral cover. Variation in scleractinian diversity was based on the species composition of coral families Fungiidae (n = 39), Agariciidae (n = 30) and Euphylliidae (n = 15). The number of coral species was highest at reefs with a larger depth gradient i.e. at the periphery of the study area and in the deep South Banggi Channel. Average live hard coral cover across the sites was 49%. Only 7% of the examined reefs had > 75% hard coral cover, while the majority of the reef sites were rated fair (51%) and good (38%). Sites with low coral cover and high rubble fragments are evidence of blast fishing, although the observed damage appeared old. Depth was a dominant factor in influencing the coral species composition and benthic reef communities in the TMP. Besides filling in the information gaps regarding species richness and benthic cover for reef areas that were previously without any data, the results of this study together with information that is already available on the coral reefs of TMP will be used to make informed decisions on zoning plans for conservation priorities in the proposed park.

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Research area at the northern tip of Borneo.Symbols for data collected at survey sites; green: coral species richness only; blue: benthic community only: black: both. The sites indicated by the black symbol were plotted according to GPS coordinates of the coral species richness surveys (S1 Table). Labels (locality names excluding the proposed Tun Mustapha Park boundary) are given according to British Admiralty Nautical Charts no. 948 and 1654. Selat Banggi Selatan (South Banggi Channel) is indicated by the dashed grey line.
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pone.0146006.g001: Research area at the northern tip of Borneo.Symbols for data collected at survey sites; green: coral species richness only; blue: benthic community only: black: both. The sites indicated by the black symbol were plotted according to GPS coordinates of the coral species richness surveys (S1 Table). Labels (locality names excluding the proposed Tun Mustapha Park boundary) are given according to British Admiralty Nautical Charts no. 948 and 1654. Selat Banggi Selatan (South Banggi Channel) is indicated by the dashed grey line.

Mentions: Coral reefs were surveyed during TMPE 2012 in Kudat, Sabah (6°40'– 7°30' N, 116°40’– 117°40’ E) from 6 to 26 September 2012 at coastal and offshore reefs (1–35 m depth). Dives were made at 38 sites for coral species richness surveys and 36 sites for benthic community surveys, situated less than 60 km from the mainland (Fig 1, S1 Table). Sites were selected based on navigation charts (Malaysia Nautical Chart MAL 871, British Admiralty Nautical Charts no. 948 and 1654), reconnaissance dives prior to the expedition, and local knowledge. The selection was intended to be representative of the TMP reef area and include as much habitat diversity as possible, but some areas were excluded from the surveys because of the presence of saltwater crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus), particularly at the east and southeast coast of Balambangan Island [63–64]. Several areas were not accessible during the survey due to unfavourable weather conditions with strong winds from the west. Due to this, there was a sampling bias given that the reefs in the west along the coast of the Kudat peninsula were not as fully explored as the reef complex in the east. On several occasions, reefs could not be located due to bad surface visibility accompanied by strong surface currents and waves. Furthermore, only few surveys were possible south of the Kudat town in Marudu Bay owing to poor water visibility caused by wind-generated waves.


Coral Reefs at the Northernmost Tip of Borneo: An Assessment of Scleractinian Species Richness Patterns and Benthic Reef Assemblages.

Waheed Z, van Mil HG, Syed Hussein MA, Jumin R, Golam Ahad B, Hoeksema BW - PLoS ONE (2015)

Research area at the northern tip of Borneo.Symbols for data collected at survey sites; green: coral species richness only; blue: benthic community only: black: both. The sites indicated by the black symbol were plotted according to GPS coordinates of the coral species richness surveys (S1 Table). Labels (locality names excluding the proposed Tun Mustapha Park boundary) are given according to British Admiralty Nautical Charts no. 948 and 1654. Selat Banggi Selatan (South Banggi Channel) is indicated by the dashed grey line.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4697805&req=5

pone.0146006.g001: Research area at the northern tip of Borneo.Symbols for data collected at survey sites; green: coral species richness only; blue: benthic community only: black: both. The sites indicated by the black symbol were plotted according to GPS coordinates of the coral species richness surveys (S1 Table). Labels (locality names excluding the proposed Tun Mustapha Park boundary) are given according to British Admiralty Nautical Charts no. 948 and 1654. Selat Banggi Selatan (South Banggi Channel) is indicated by the dashed grey line.
Mentions: Coral reefs were surveyed during TMPE 2012 in Kudat, Sabah (6°40'– 7°30' N, 116°40’– 117°40’ E) from 6 to 26 September 2012 at coastal and offshore reefs (1–35 m depth). Dives were made at 38 sites for coral species richness surveys and 36 sites for benthic community surveys, situated less than 60 km from the mainland (Fig 1, S1 Table). Sites were selected based on navigation charts (Malaysia Nautical Chart MAL 871, British Admiralty Nautical Charts no. 948 and 1654), reconnaissance dives prior to the expedition, and local knowledge. The selection was intended to be representative of the TMP reef area and include as much habitat diversity as possible, but some areas were excluded from the surveys because of the presence of saltwater crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus), particularly at the east and southeast coast of Balambangan Island [63–64]. Several areas were not accessible during the survey due to unfavourable weather conditions with strong winds from the west. Due to this, there was a sampling bias given that the reefs in the west along the coast of the Kudat peninsula were not as fully explored as the reef complex in the east. On several occasions, reefs could not be located due to bad surface visibility accompanied by strong surface currents and waves. Furthermore, only few surveys were possible south of the Kudat town in Marudu Bay owing to poor water visibility caused by wind-generated waves.

Bottom Line: Only 7% of the examined reefs had > 75% hard coral cover, while the majority of the reef sites were rated fair (51%) and good (38%).Sites with low coral cover and high rubble fragments are evidence of blast fishing, although the observed damage appeared old.Depth was a dominant factor in influencing the coral species composition and benthic reef communities in the TMP.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Marine Zoology, Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Leiden, The Netherlands.

ABSTRACT
The coral reefs at the northernmost tip of Sabah, Borneo will be established under a marine protected area: the Tun Mustapha Park (TMP) by the end of 2015. This area is a passage where the Sulu Sea meets the South China Sea and it is situated at the border of the area of maximum marine biodiversity, the Coral Triangle. The TMP includes fringing and patch reefs established on a relatively shallow sea floor. Surveys were carried out to examine features of the coral reefs in terms of scleractinian species richness, and benthic reef assemblages following the Reef Check substrate categories, with emphasis on hard coral cover. Variation in scleractinian diversity was based on the species composition of coral families Fungiidae (n = 39), Agariciidae (n = 30) and Euphylliidae (n = 15). The number of coral species was highest at reefs with a larger depth gradient i.e. at the periphery of the study area and in the deep South Banggi Channel. Average live hard coral cover across the sites was 49%. Only 7% of the examined reefs had > 75% hard coral cover, while the majority of the reef sites were rated fair (51%) and good (38%). Sites with low coral cover and high rubble fragments are evidence of blast fishing, although the observed damage appeared old. Depth was a dominant factor in influencing the coral species composition and benthic reef communities in the TMP. Besides filling in the information gaps regarding species richness and benthic cover for reef areas that were previously without any data, the results of this study together with information that is already available on the coral reefs of TMP will be used to make informed decisions on zoning plans for conservation priorities in the proposed park.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus