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Title: The biodiversity and biogeography of shallow-water flora and fauna of the Western Indian ocean : with special reference to the Polychaeta, Mollusca and Echinodermata
Author: Richmond, Matthew D.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3518 0038
Awarding Body: University of Wales, Bangor
Current Institution: Bangor University
Date of Award: 1998
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The biodiversity and biogeography of the western Indian Ocean shallow-water marine flora and fauna was examined with special emphasis on Polychaeta, Mollusca (excluding Opisthobranchia) and Echinodermata. A collection of predominantly eulittoral polychaetes from Zanzibar and Mafia (Tanzania) revealed a minimum of91 species, of which 29 % are reported to occur across the Indian Ocean to the West Pacific, and 21 % are regarded as 'cosmopolitan'. Taxonomic problems associated with this taxon are discussed. Over 3,200 species of shelled Mollusca have been reported from the region, though the overall diversity of the groups are likely to be less due to the presence of many synonyms within the taxa which remain to be resolved. Of those families which have been taxonomically reviewed, it appears that the western Indian Ocean supports up to 15-20 % endemism, with noticeable differences in species diversity between the mainland of Africa and the western Indian Ocean islands, especially among bivalves. A total of 419 species of echinoderms are now known from this region, with 107 species (25 %) endemic. About 84 % of the nonendemic species are reported from several localities across the Indian Ocean to the West Pacific. Differences in the diversity of this group between mainland Africa-Madagascar and the western Indian Ocean islands are shown and possible reasons discussed. Origins of the marine macro-invertebrate taxa in the western Indian Ocean include the maintenance of ancient Tethyan Sea fauna and larval (or adult) dispersal across the northern Indian Ocean. The possibility of species diversity being a function of coastline length was briefly investigated. The preparation of A Guide to the Seashores of Eastern Africa and the Western Indian Ocean Islands, describing over 1,600 species, forms part of the work of this thesis and provides a baseline of taxonomic information for macrofauna and flora. From the latter, together with predictions provided by specialists, an estimate of about 10,000 species of shallow-water marine macrofauna and flora are found in this region. It is acknowledged that taxonomic problems affect many invertebrate taxa which require additional attention before estimates can be defined more precisely. Continued taxonomic research and dissemination of biodiversity findings are considered priorities to help stem the degradation and misuse of marine resources of this region resulting from human exploitation which is expected to increase considerably over the coming decades.
Supervisor: Jones, David Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Marine; Tropical Taxonomy; Field guide