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Reef-associated crustacean fauna: biodiversity estimates using semi-quantitative sampling and DNA barcoding

  • Plaisance, L.
  • Knowlton, N.
  • Paulay, G.
  • Meyer, C.
Publication Date
Dec 01, 2009
eScholarship - University of California
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The cryptofauna associated with coral reefs accounts for a major part of the biodiversity in these ecosystems but has been largely overlooked in biodiversity estimates because the organisms are hard to collect and identify. We combine a semi-quantitative sampling design and a DNA barcoding approach to provide metrics for the diversity of reef-associated crustacean. Twenty-two similar-sized dead heads of Pocillopora were sampled at 10 m depth from five central Pacific Ocean localities (four atolls in the Northern Line Islands and in Moorea, French Polynesia). All crustaceans were removed, and partial cytochrome oxidase subunit I was sequenced from 403 individuals, yielding 135 distinct taxa using a species-level criterion of 5% similarity. Most crustacean species were rare; 44% of the OTUs were represented by a single individual, and an additional 33% were represented by several specimens found only in one of the five localities. The Northern Line Islands and Moorea shared only 11 OTUs. Total numbers estimated by species richness statistics (Chao1 and ACE) suggest at least 90 species of crustaceans in Moorea and 150 in the Northern Line Islands for this habitat type. However, rarefaction curves for each region failed to approach an asymptote, and Chao1 and ACE estimators did not stabilize after sampling eight heads in Moorea, so even these diversity figures are underestimates. Nevertheless, even this modest sampling effort from a very limited habitat resulted in surprisingly high species numbers.

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