GIS based mapping of zoanthids along Saurashtra coast, Gujarat, India


Zooxanthellate zoanthids (or. Zoantharia) are the third largest order of Hexacorallia and are an integral part of the coral reef ecosystem. Worldwide coral reefs will continue to suffer under the synergistic effect of anthropogenic agent and climate change, thereby shifting towards more adaptive and resilient species. Zoanthids are looked upon as adaptive species under the current dynamics of climate change. Zoanthids are also studied for their biochemical properties like extraction of zoanthamine, Oxytoxic agent, Green Fluorensce Proteins (GFP). Hence understanding the ecology and spatial distribution patterns of zoanthids is important in formulating conservational and management policies pertaining to marine ecosystems. The present study encompasses the spatial distribution pattern of zoanthids along the Saurashtra coast of Gujarat, India. Nineteen stations have been selected from Okha to Bhavnagar and spatial distribution patterns of eight zoanthid species have been studied using modified belt transact method, GIS and IDW interpolation technique. The results indicated Palythoa mutuki as the most common and abundant species along the Saurashtra coast of Gujarat followed by Zoanthus sansibaricus and Palythoa tuberculosa. While species such as Zoanthus gigantus and Palythoa heliodiscus, been the rarest species along this coast. The study is first of its kind and attempt has been made to incorporate the modern tools which overcome the constraints of spatial variation in the distribution over traditional methods of biodiversity studies. The study also forms baseline study to monitor zoanthid progression in the future and developing georeferenced database along the Saurashtra coast of India for long term permanent transect monitoring and policy framework development

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