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Patterns Of Sponge Biodiversity In The Pilbara, Northwestern Australia

J. Fromont, M. Wahab, O. Gomez, M. Ekins, M. Grol, J. Hooper
Published 2016 · Biology

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This study assessed the biodiversity of sponges within the Integrated Marine and Coastal Regionalisation for Australia (IMCRA) bioregions of the Pilbara using datasets amalgamated from the Western Australian Museum and the Atlas of Living Australia. The Pilbara accounts for a total of 1164 Linnean and morphospecies. A high level of “apparent endemism” was recorded with 78% of species found in only one of six bioregions, with less than 10% confirmed as widely distributed. The Ningaloo, Pilbara Nearshore and Pilbara Offshore bioregions are biodiversity hotspots (>250 species) and are recognised as having the highest conservation value, followed by North West Shelf containing 232 species. Species compositions differed between bioregions, with those that are less spatially separated sharing more species. Notably, the North West Province bioregion (110 species) exhibited the most distinct species composition, highlighting it as a unique habitat within the Pilbara. While sponge biodiversity is apparently high, incomplete sampling effort for the region was identified, with only two sampling events recorded for the Central West Transition bioregion. Furthermore, only 15% of records in the dataset are presently described (Linnean) species, highlighting the continuing need for taxonomic expertise for the conservation and management of marine biodiversity resources.
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