Scientia Marina, Vol 68, No S1 (2004)

Bioconstruction and biodiversity: their mutual influence

Silvia Cocito
ENEA Marine Environment Research Centre, Italy


This paper describes the functional role of main benthic constructor organisms and reviews processes by which bioconstructions increase diversity and abundance of associated biota, and the reverse. Based on the literature, patterns of diversity of carbonate bryozoan bioconstructions, one of the most important groups performing important constructional roles, have been analysed. Diversity of bryozoan bioconstructors seems not to follow the latitudinal gradient, from tropics to increasing distance from tropics, recognised for coral bioconstructors. The only case of a high diversity bryozoan reef (Joulters Cays, Bahamas) represents a situation virtually unique in carbonate environments. Dimension and extension of bryozoan bioconstructions show their maximum in temperate environments, where seasonality or variability of environmental parameters could afford advantages for success to bryozoans. With only one exception (the bryozoan-serpulid build-ups from South Australia), diversity of biota associated with bryozoan bioconstructions is high, but comparison is not possible due to the fact that exhaustive faunal studies are rare, sometimes referring only to one taxon, and environments differing in depth range, salinity, hydrodynamics, trophic diversity, etc. are involved.


biodiversity; biological habitat provision; bioconstructor; physical habitat structure; associated fauna; Bryozoa

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Copyright (c) 2004 Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC)

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