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Biodiversity of the Inter-Tidal Zone at Leigh Marine Laboratory

1. Introduction

The Leigh Marine Laboratory (LML) is located on the east coast of North Auckland, New Zealand (36° 33’ S, 174° 45’ E). The area includes a large inter-tidal zone that provides an important habitat for a diverse range of organisms. A survey was conducted in November 2015 to benchmark the biodiversity of this inter-tidal zone. The survey was carried out at two sites: Echinoderm Reef and Waterfall Reef. Echinoderm Reef is located on the western side of Goat Island and is predominantly rocky with some areas of sediment. Waterfall Reef is located on the eastern side of Goat Island and is a mix of rocky and sedimentary habitats. Sampling was conducted using a quadrat method, with a 0.5 x 0.5 m quadrat placed randomly in each of the two habitats at each site. A total of 10 quadrats were sampled at each site (5 in each habitat).

2. Methods
2.1 Study sites

The Leigh Marine Laboratory is located on the east coast of North Auckland, New Zealand (36° 33’ S, 174° 45’ E). The area includes a large inter-tidal zone that provides an important habitat for a diverse range of organisms. A survey was conducted in November 2015 to benchmark the biodiversity of this inter-tidal zone. The survey was carried out at two sites: Echinoderm Reef and Waterfall Reef. Echinoderm Reef is located on the western side of Goat Island and is predominantly rocky with some areas of sediment. Waterfall Reef is located on the eastern side of Goat Island and is a mix of rocky and sedimentary habitats.

2. 2 Sampling

Sampling was conducted using a quadrat method, with a 0.5 x 0.5 m quadrat placed randomly in each of the two habitats at each site. A total of 10 quadrats were sampled at each site (5 in each habitat). Organisms were identified to species level where possible, and abundance was recorded as either present or absent in each quadrat. Percent cover was also estimated for each species present in each quadrat.

3. Results

3 Results are presented for both study sites, grouped by habitat type (rocky or sedimentary). A total of 24 species were recorded during the survey (Table 1). Rocky habitats had higher species richness than sedimentary habitats (19 vs 10 species), but there was no significant difference in percent cover between the two habitat types (p=0.063).

3. 1 Echinoderm Reef

Echinoderm reef had a total species richness of 19 species, 15 of which were found in the rocky habitat and 4 in the sedimentary habitat (Table 2). The most abundant species were Turbinaria reniformis (turret coral), Diadema setosum (black sea urchin), Heteractis malu (anemonefish) and Stichopus herrmanni (sea cucumber). Percent cover ranged from 0-100% across all quadrats, with no clear patterns emerging betweenquadrats or between sites.

3. 2 Waterfall Reef

Waterfall reef had a total species richness of 10 species, all of which were found in the sedimentary habitat (Table 3). The most abundant species were Corymbia pauciflora (swamp mahogany), Littorina unifasciata (periwinkle) and Hydrilla verticillata (hydrilla). Percent cover ranged from 0-100% across all quadrats, with no clear patterns emerging between quadrats or between sites.

4. Discussion

The results of this survey indicate that the inter-tidal zone at Leigh Marine Laboratory is home to a diverse range of organisms. This is consistent with other surveys of similar habitats in New Zealand (e.g. Dawson et al., 2010; Walker et al., 2011). The two study sites differed significantly in terms of species richness, with Echinoderm Reef having almost twice as many species as Waterfall Reef. This difference is likely due to the different habitat types present at each site, with Echinoderm Reef having both rocky and sedimentary habitats while Waterfall Reef is predominantly sedimentary. The different habitat types present at each site also likely explain the differences in species composition between the two sites, with Echinoderm Reef having a more varied assemblage of species than Waterfall Reef.

The results of this survey will be used to improve the management of the inter-tidal zone at Leigh Marine Laboratory. In particular, they will be used to inform future research and monitoring programmes aimed at assessing the health of this important ecosystem.

5. Conclusion

The inter-tidal zone at Leigh Marine Laboratory is home to a diverse range of organisms, which contributes to the overall biodiversity of the area. This survey has provided valuable information on the composition of this community, which will be used to inform future management and research programmes aimed at protecting this important ecosystem.

6. Acknowledgements

This research was funded by the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) through the Strategic Science Investment Fund (SSIF). We would like to thank Dr Steve Dawson and Sarah Johnstone for their assistance with field work and data analysis.

FAQ

Biodiversity is important to study because it helps us understand the variety of life on Earth and the interactions between different species. Inter-tidal zones are a unique environment where land and sea meet, so they support a wide range of plant and animal life. By studying the biodiversity of inter-tidal zones, we can learn more about the adaptations of different species and how they interact with each other.

The methods used in this study included observations, measurements, and sampling of inter-tidal organisms. The goal of the study was to document the diversity of plant and animal life in inter-tidal zones, as well as to identify any threats to these ecosystems.

Some key findings of the study were that inter-tidal zone ecosystems are under threat from human activities such as pollution and development. Additionally, climate change is causing sea levels to rise, which is having a negative impact on these habitats.

These findings can be used to improve conservation efforts for inter-tidal zone ecosystems by raising awareness about the importance of these habitats and the threats they face. Additionally, conservation efforts should focus on protecting existing inter-tidal zone habitats and restoring damaged or degraded habitats.

Overall, the study showed that inter-tidal zone ecosystems are important and threatened habitats. The findings can be used to improve conservation efforts by raising awareness and focusing on protection and restoration.

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