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Hausmann, Imelda M.; Domanski, Hubert; Zuschin, Martin (2018): Influence of setting, sieve size, and sediment depth on multivariate and univariate assemblage attributes of coral reef-associated mollusc death assemblages from the Gulf of Aqaba. In: Facies, Vol. 64, No. 3, 20
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Measures of diversity and ecology of marine invertebrate assemblages depend on a variety of factors including environmental conditions and methodological decisions. In this study, the influence of such factors on multi- and univariate assemblage parameters of molluscan death assemblages from the Gulf of Aqaba (Red Sea, Jordan) was evaluated. Sediment samples were collected at two coral reef types, a patch reef at 13 m of water depth characterized by fine-grained sediments and a Millepora-fringing reef with coarse-grained sediments at 5 m of water depth. The upper and lower 10 cm of the sediment column were separately removed and sieved with mesh sizes of 1 and 2 mm. A large dataset of 6400 bivalve and gastropod shells was compiled to evaluate how setting, sediment depth, and sieve size influenced taxonomic composition and species richness, species-abundance patterns and the Shannon-Wiener index, the number of drilled shells per species and drilling frequency (DF) of the assemblage. Setting had the strongest impact on all aspects, followed by sieve size, but sediment depth was insignificant, probably due to complete homogenization of the sediments by reworking and bioturbation. Multivariate assemblage parameters distinguished much better between categories (setting, sieve size) than univariate measures. Sieve size-related disagreements recognized between the two higher taxa are mostly due to the underlying difference in body-size distribution of bivalve and gastropod assemblages. We conclude that species richness and other ecological characteristics of molluscan death assemblages in coral reef-associated sediments will most strongly reflect habitat complexity of the sites chosen, are significantly influenced by methodological decisions (i.e., sieve size), will only poorly preserve temporal patterns, and the results will differ between bivalves and gastropods.