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Journal of Marine Biology
Volume 2014, Article ID 631309, 7 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2014/631309
Research Article

Abundance and Diversity of Holothuroids in Shallow Habitats of the Northern Red Sea

1Interuniversity Institute for Marine Sciences Eilat and Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, P.O. Box 12, 70795 Rehovot, Israel
2Department of Biology, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Beer Sheva, Israel

Received 11 August 2014; Revised 20 October 2014; Accepted 27 October 2014; Published 13 November 2014

Academic Editor: Evgeny Pakhomov

Copyright © 2014 Boaz Yuval et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Holothuroid sea cucumbers are vital members of Coral Reefs and associated marine habitats and provide vital ecological services. In the southern regions of the Red Sea their populations have been decimated by overfishing. The main objective of this study was to test the hypothesis that the northern part of the Red Sea serves as an ecological refuge for the species threatened farther to the south. Accordingly, populations of sea cucumbers in 4 shallow sites south of Eilat, Israel (29°33′00N 34°57′14E), were repeatedly surveyed from November 2013 to April 2014. Overall 11 species were observed in these shallow sites. Their abundance and diversity differed significantly between sites, but not temporally. In sites in marine protected areas, with an intact fringing reef, diversity was high, with Holothuria edulis and Bohadschia sp. being the most common species. In areas with higher human use and characterized by rubble and scattered corals, diversity was low, and Actinopyga bannwarthi was the most common species. The observed abundance and diversity did not support the refuge hypothesis. These findings are discussed in relation to other surveys of abundance and diversity in similar habitats.