Cryptofaunal diversity in fringing reef rhodoliths

Mira Abrecht*, Viktor Nunes Peinemann, Ara Kevork Yazaryan, Madeline Kestler, Braden Charles DeMattei, Benjamin A. Hà, Emily Ryznar, David K. Jacobs*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Rhodolith distribution, morphology, and cryptofauna have been minimally studied on fringing reefs. We present the first study to examine both rhodolith distribution and associated cryptofauna in a tropical fringing reef, located along the microtidal, wave-dominated north shore of Moorea, French Polynesia. We find higher abundances of larger, rounder, and more branching rhodoliths in locations where longer waves impact the fringing reef. Among 1879 animals extracted and identified from 145 rhodoliths, ophiuroids, polychaetes, decapod crustaceans, and gastropods are most abundant, with a wide range of additional taxa contributing to diversity. Large and branching rhodoliths contain the greatest number and diversity of cryptofaunal organisms and are the preferred habitat of rigid-bodied, non-burrowing forms. Overall, exposure to waves entering the lagoon through passes appears to be a critical determinant of rhodolith abundance, morphotype, and in turn cryptofaunal composition in fringing reef habitats.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)199-212
Number of pages14
JournalCoral Reefs
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We received funding from the UCLA Ecology and Evolutionary Biology department. Benjamin A. Hà received funding from NSF GRFP Grant #1650604.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).


  • CCA
  • Coral reefs
  • Cryptofauna
  • French polynesia
  • Red algae
  • Rhodoliths

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science


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