Abundance, distribution and new records of scleractinian corals at Barrow Island and Southern Montebello Island, Pilbara (Offshore) Bioregion
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The local abundance and distribution of scleractinian corals were documented near Barrow Island in the Pilbara (Offshore) Bioregion, Western Australia. Using a standard rapid ecological assessment method we recorded 204 species from 51 genera and as a result of this study we extend the known distribution range of 15 species. We find a high diversity of habitat types promotes high species richness, particularly among Acropora species. Our results confirm the existence of a unique suite of coral species in the Pilbara that is not recorded in the Oceanic Shoals (Offshore) or Pilbara (Nearshore) Bioregions. The Pilbara has a rich coral fauna that is often overlooked and the Barrow/ Montebello Islands group may provide a high latitude refuge for some coral species including 39 species that are listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN red list of threatened species.
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