Standard Presentation (15 mins) Australian Marine Sciences Association 2022

Drivers of biodiversity in the coral rubble cryptobiome from microhabitat to seascape scales (#96)

Kenny Wolfe 1 , Tania Kenyon 1 , Amelia Desbiens 1 , Peter Mumby 1
  1. Biological Sciences, University of Queensland, St Lucia, QLD, Australia

Habitat structural complexity has an appreciable influence on species’ distributions, community composition and ecosystem functioning at a range of spatial scales. Declines in habitat complexity can thus have marked ecological outcomes, as currently observed on coral reefs. Given continued declines in coral reef condition, we focused our attention on coral rubble biomes to identify the biotic and abiotic parameters that define rubble biodiversity in coral reefs and provide novel information on bottom-up processes in an eroded reef state. This talk combines several years of data collection including through use of novel Rubble Biodiversity Samplers (RUBS), a literature review, and field surveys aimed at characterising coral rubble biomes from pieces to patches along an exposure gradient at Heron Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Through this compilation, we define important morphological indicators in rubble and how they shape sessile and motile communities from microhabitat to seascape scales, including links to reef trophodynamics under progressive changes in reef complexity. We conclude that is essential to understand the species that proliferate and functions that occur in rubble today as they will continue to grow in relevance as rubble production amplifies in the Anthropocene.