Environmental effects on the distribution of corallimorpharians in Tanzania
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This study examined the distribution and abundance of corallimorpharians (Cnidaria, Anthozoa) in Tanzania in relation to different aspects of the coral reef environment. Five reefs under varying degrees of human disturbance were investigated using the line intercepttransect and point technique. Corallimorpharian growth and the composition of the substratum were quantified in different habitats within reefs: the inner and middle reef flat, the reef crest, and at the 2and 4 m depths on the reef slope. Corallimorpharians occurred on all the reefs and 5 species were identified: Rhodactis rhodostoma, R. mussoides, Ricordea yuma, Actinodiscus unguja and A. nummiforme. R. rhodostoma was the dominant corallimorpharian at all sites. Within reefs, they had the highest densities in the shallow habitats. While R. rhodostoma occurred in all habitats, the other corallimorpharian species showed uneven distributions. Corallimorpharians ranked second, after scleractinian coral, in percent living cover. Results from this study suggested that corallimorpharians benefited from disturbance compared with other sessile organisms. They preferred inhabiting areas with dead coral, rock and rubble whilst live coral was avoided. There was a positive relationship between percent cover of corallimorpharians and water turbidity and they dominated the more disturbed reefs, The reefs that were affected by higher nutrient loads and fishing.