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Changes in deep reef benthic community composition across a latitudinal and environmental gradient in temperate Eastern Australia

James, LC, Marzloff, MP ORCID: 0000-0002-8152-4273, Barrett, N ORCID: 0000-0002-6167-1356, Friedman, A and Johnson, CR ORCID: 0000-0002-9511-905X 2017 , 'Changes in deep reef benthic community composition across a latitudinal and environmental gradient in temperate Eastern Australia' , Marine Ecology - Progress Series, vol. 565 , pp. 35-52 , doi:

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Deep reef assemblages in south-eastern Australia are poorly described, and have been surveyed by only a few studies conducted over small spatial scales. Here, we characterise the composition of deep (~30-90 m depth) sessile invertebrate communities from sub-tropical (27°S) to temperate eastern Australia (43°S). We estimated the cover of 51 preselected invertebrate types from over 1700 seafloor images collected by an autonomous underwater vehicle from >105 km of transects across the study region. Seafloor images were assessed using 3 alternative schemes reflecting different resolution of benthic invertebrate groupings, including the broad-level Collaborative and Automated Tools for Analysis of Marine Imagery project (‘CATAMI’) classification recently developed as a generic scoring approach for seafloor imagery. Ordination using canonical analysis of principal coordinates indicated a clear latitudinal gradient in benthic community composition and, particularly when based on individual morphotypes, 3 distinct community types (sub-tropical, warm temperate and cool temperate). Changes in community structure mostly correlated with primary productivity and the temperature climatology, while local-scale variability in community composition was most related to depth. Along with the gradual shift in deep reef community composition across latitudes, region-specific sessile invertebrates might serve as useful indicators of change in these deep benthic communities under future changes in ocean climate in the region, which has been identified as a global hotspot for ocean warming. Our methodological approach has general applicability for large-scale surveying and monitoring of benthic communities using underwater imagery.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:James, LC and Marzloff, MP and Barrett, N and Friedman, A and Johnson, CR
Keywords: Deep marine reef, autonomous underwater vehicle, AUV, benthic invertebrate, community composition, climate change
Journal or Publication Title: Marine Ecology - Progress Series
Publisher: Inter-Research
ISSN: 0171-8630
DOI / ID Number:
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Copyright 2017 the Authors and IMAS. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0)

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