Cryptic coral reef creatures show cross-shelf biodiversity patterns

26 September, 2018

​Cryptic fauna—small organisms that inhabit the hidden spaces within a reef structure—represent a substantial proportion of the diversity within coral reefs but are typically neglected in traditional visual surveys, which tend to focus on large and conspicuous species, such as fish and corals.

An international collaboration comprised of marine scientists from KAUST, the United States and Taiwan investigated the diversity patterns of the cryptic fauna in eight reefs in the central region of the Red Sea. The distribution patterns of these small creatures was unraveled using autonomous reef monitoring structures (ARMS), which consist of stacks of plates creating an artificial three-dimensional habitat for colonization, in conjunction with amplicon sequencing methodologies. 

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Image: All creatures great and small: a cross-shelf study shows that all sizes matter when aiming for the reliable conservation of reef biodiversity.
© 2018 KAUST; Xavier Pita