Coral Reef Biodiversity may be Vastly Underestimated

via Coral reef biodiversity may be vastly underestimated.

Researchers with the Smithsonian have catalogued almost as many crab species on tropical coral reef bits measuring just 20.6 square feet (6.3 square meters) as in all of Europe’s seas, finds a new paper in PLoS ONE. The team used DNA barcoding to quickly identify a total of 525 crustaceans (including 168 crab species) from dead coral chunks taken from seven sites in the tropics, including the Indian, Pacific and Caribbean oceans.

“Given the complexity and extent of the world’s coral reefs, the survey covered only a very limited depth and habitat range,” said Laetitia Plaisance lead author with of the Smithsonian and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. “And yet we have so many more species than we ever expected.”

Highlighting the diversity of life found in coral ecosystems, over a third of the species encountered by researchers were only found once, while 81 percent were only found in one location.

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Coral reef biodiversity may be vastly underestimated

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