Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences

The Ecology and Distribution of Intertidal Organisms on Certain Islands off the Queensland Coast

R Endean, W Stephenson and R Kenny

Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 7(3) 317 - 342
Published: 1956


The species composition and general ecology of intertidal organisms present at Heron Island, a coral cay in the Capricorn Group, are recorded in this paper. It was found that the general zonation picture on this Great Barrier Reef island differed markedly from that found previously at localities on the Queensland mainland (Endean, Kenny, and Stephenson 1956). In particular the mainland upper barnacle (Chthamalus) zone was not represented at Heron I., and the species forming the mainland lower barnacle zone (Tetraclita squamosa (Bruguiere) ) was replaced by a different species (Tetraclita vitiata Darwin). Also the characteristic algal zone of mainland localities was replaced by a lithothamnion-zoanthid-coral zone.

In order to investigate the possibility of a gradual transition from the mainland type zonation to that found on the Great Barrier Reef, as exemplified by Heron I. zonation, the species composition and general ecology of intertidal organisms inhabiting a series of continental islands lying off the Queensland coast between lat. 16º and 22º S. were investigated. The fauna of these islands was found to be closely allied to that of the mainland. There was, however, an intrusion of corals and zoanthids on the more exposed of the islands visited which lie between lat. 20º and 22ºS., and also on the more northerly of the islands visited. The biogeographical implications of these findings are discussed, and it is noted that the results of the present investigation support the contention of Whitley (1932) that a longitudinal division of the Queensland marine fauna into "Solanderian" and "Banksian" elements is warranted.

Accounts are also given of the major environmental factors that might affect specific composition and zonation patterns at the localities investigated. Analyses of these have given much information on the general ecology and distribution of many Queensland intertidal species. Thls information is discussed. Of particular interest was the finding that the Peronian barnacle Tetraclita rosea (Krauss) has extended its range,to the north of the biogeographical boundary situated near lat. 25º S. by colonizing the more exposed of the continental islands.

© CSIRO 1956

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