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coral reefs, Tuamotu Archipelago, canonical correspondence analysis, correlations, species composition, diversity, abundance

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Nine atolls were characterized in order to understand how physical factors control the species composition, diversity, and abundance of macrobenthic (coral, mollusc, echinoderm, and algal) communities inside the lagoons. Only one region, the central part of Tuamotu Archipelago, French Polynesia, was considered, in order to minimise the variation due to regional factors between regions. The lagoons investigated showed a gradient of physical factors, providing various landscape configurations. The physical factors were surface area, abundance of pinnacles, degree of hydrodynamic aperture, and relative importance of passes in this degree of aperture. Macrobenthic communities were characterized by low diversity and strong dominance of a few mollusc or echinoderm species that generally occurred in lagoons without passes. Correlation analyses indicated that species richness increases with the surface area of the lagoon. Species richness of corals, echinoderms, and macroalgae was also higher in lagoons having numerous pinnacles. Canonical correspondence analyses revealed that the distribution and the relative abundance of coral, echinoderm, and macroalgae species were correlated to the relative importance of passes, whereas degree of aperture of the lagoon was also relevant for corals and molluscs. The physical factors that control the processes of water exchange between ocean and lagoon, including passes, submerged reef flats, and spillways, influence the identity and the abundance of most macrobenthic species inside the lagoons.

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Marine Ecology Progress Series, v. 196, p. 25-38

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