Investigation of the biodiversity and ecology of encrusting epifauna associated with bivalve molluscs in the North-East Atlantic and Qatar
Al-Ghanem, Marwa Mohammed
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Biogenic reefs provide hard substrates in areas that would otherwise be dominated by sediment. These reefs support a diverse assemblage of suspension feeders such as barnacles, tube worms, and bryozoans. The aim of this study is to investigate the factors influencing biodiversity, abundance, competition, spatial distribution and successional patterns of encrusting epifaunal communities in temperate and tropical regions. These include the Modiolus modiolus reefs of the North- East Atlantic temperate zone and the coral reefs and pearl oyster reefs in Qatar. In both areas, the encrusting epifaunal community was recorded, species identity confirmed with selected SEM imagery. The species abundance and competition data was analysed by multivariate approaches to give an understanding of the community complexity of horse mussel shell epifauna, and related to the microenvironmental and biogeographic context. The present study provides the first formally described taxonomical information on bryozoan fauna collected from Qatar that are exposed to extremes in temperature and salinity. Twenty-five species of bryozoans are reported from across the coastline of Qatar. These species belong to twenty-four genera in twenty-two families of the orders Ctenostomata and Cheilostomata. High precision Nonius X-ray Diffractometer was used to determine the mineral composition of Qatar Bryozoa to baseline our knowledge of Qatar bryozoan calcification and start to consider how they endure extreme ocean climate, specifically the combination of high temperature and salinity.