A new threat to local marine biodiversity: filamentous mats proliferating at mesophotic depths off Rapa Nui.

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From: PeerJ(Vol. 9)
Publisher: PeerJ. Ltd.
Document Type: Article
Length: 6,310 words
Lexile Measure: 1490L

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Abstract :

Mesophotic and deeper habitats (~40 to 350 m in depth) around Rapa Nui (Easter Island) were investigated using a remotely operated vehicle. We observed extensive fields of filamentous cyanobacteria-like mats covering sandy substrates and mostly dead mesophotic Leptoseris spp. reefs. These mats covered up to 100% of the seafloor off Hanga Roa, the main village on the island, located on its western side. The highest mortality of corals was observed at depths between 70 and 95 m in this area. Healthy Leptoseris reefs were documented off the northern and southeastern sides of the island, which are also the least populated. A preliminary morphologic analysis of samples of the mats indicated that the assemblage is composed of at least four filamentous taxa, including two cyanobacteria (cf. Lyngbya sp. and Pseudoanabaena sp.), a brown alga (Ectocarpus sp.), and a green alga (Cladophora sp.). An ongoing eutrophication process is suggested as a potential driver of the proliferation of these filamentous mats off Hanga Roa village.

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A673021636