Geology-benthos relationships on a temperate rocky bank, eastern Bass Strait, Australia
January 01, 2005

Authors: Beaman, R.J., Daniell, J., Harris, P.T.

Year: 2005

Publication: Marine and Freshwater Research 56: 943-958. doi: 10.1071/MF04306


To better understand the possible relationships between the geology of the seabed and the associated biological communities, we conducted a multibeam sonar survey over New Zealand Star Bank in the eastern Bass Strait. We applied a hierarchical method of benthic habitat mapping to the Secondary Biotope and Biological Facies levels at the site (<10 km) scale.

Four Secondary Biotopes and four Biological Facies have been defined on the basis of geomorphology revealed by the bathymetry model and the results of statistical analysis of the sediment and underwater video transect data over the bank.

The major differences which control the distribution of biological communities in the New Zealand Star Bank area appear to be related to variations in substrate: (1) Hard-ground features related to high-relief granite outcrops are associated with diverse and abundant sessile and motile fauna. These faunal communities may be biologically-modified to patchy barrens habitat by grazing urchins. (2) Unconsolidated sediment on a flat seabed is associated with sparse small sponges on the inner shelf. On the middle shelf and seaward of bank, the flat and muddy seabed supports a community dominated by infauna. (3) Unconsolidated sediment on a low-relief seabed is associated with an increase in the density and sizes of sponges concentrated on any low-relief feature raised above the surrounding flat seabed.

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