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You are here: /main/research expeditions/CReefs 2006/Collection/Sand

Census of Marine Life, Census of Coral Reefs Expedition to French Frigate Shoals (October 2006)

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Sand Sampling

Lead Scientist: Russell Brainard, Scott Godwin
Target Habitats: Lagoonal sands
Target Organisms: Mobile epifauna, Infauna

Description:
Mobile sediments dominate large atoll ecosystems like French Frigate Shoals, as they comprise much of the lagoon bottom. Reef sands hold diverse epi- and in-fauna, and also accumulate the skeletal remains of taxa that live on hard reef bottoms. We will target both live and dead components of the sand fauna. Live components will be collected by sieving 15 gallons of reef sand per lagoonal sand site over 1mm mesh screen underwater, with only the retained fraction taken on board for sorting. For the study of death assemblages of skeletonized taxa (principally mollusks, although forams, ostracods, and other taxa could also be studied if future interest and expertise permit) 2 liters of sand per site (for a total of 12 liters) will be collected in a plastic bag, washed with freshwater and air-dried. Shells will be picked by first sieving the sample into size fractions to facilitate sorting, then picking proportionately across size fractions, until 500 mollusk shells have been picked. These quantitative samples permit rigorous comparisons of mollusk biodiversity among habitats and sites (see Peshut, 2000), and can be the most productive technique for documenting the diversity of primarily infaunal taxa, such as bivalve mollusks (Paulay, 2003). The remainder of the samples collected to study death assemblages will be examined, as time permits, to compile a qualitative list of the relevant taxa. The sand from the field screening that remains after removal of live animals may also be retained for these purposes.

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