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Benthic communities at two remote Pacific coral reefs: effects of reef habitat, depth, and wave energy gradients on spatial patterns

Author(s): Gareth J. Williams | Jennifer E. Smith | Eric J. Conklin | Jamison M. Gove | Enric Sala | Stuart A. Sandin

Journal: PeerJ
ISSN 2167-8359

Volume: 1;
Start page: e81;
Date: 2013;
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Keywords: Coral | Macroalgae | Zonation | Wave exposure | Kingman Reef | Palmyra Atoll | Spatial clustering | Wave impacts | Benthic competition

Kingman Reef and Palmyra Atoll in the central Pacific are among the most remote coral reefs on the planet. Here we describe spatial patterns in their benthic communities across reef habitats and depths, and consider these in the context of oceanographic gradients. Benthic communities at both locations were dominated by calcifying organisms (54–86% cover), namely hard corals (20–74%) and crustose coralline algae (CCA) (10–36%). While turf algae were relatively common at both locations (8–22%), larger fleshy macroalgae were virtually absent at Kingman (

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