Molluscan Diversity Influenced by Mangrove Habitat in the Khors of Qatar
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The Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of Qatar is a rapidly developing region within the Arabian Gulf, where monitoring of changes in benthic biodiversity and its functioning is needed. The influence of mangroves and seasonality on the nearshore subtidal molluscan diversity at three distinct khors (nearshore tidal bays) - natural mangroves (Al Dhakhira), planted mangroves (Al Mafyar) and no-mangroves (Dawhat Zekreet) - are investigated in this study. This study concludes that even the sub-tidal area is influenced by mangroves, and mangroves increase the diversity of molluscs compared to the site that lacks mangroves. The maximum salinity (59.8�psu) was observed at Dawhat Zekreet during summer, and the minimum (41.44�psu) at Al Dhakhira in winter. Chlorophyll a level was low for all the khors, and rarely exceeded 1�?g/L, depicting oligotrophic waters. Al Dhakhira demonstrated the highest molluscan species richness (32), and shared 28 species in common with Al Mafyar. Dawhat Zekreet had the fewest mollusc species number and no mangroves. When cumulative diversity over all seasons was considered, Dawhat Zekreet exhibited the lowest species richness; Al Dhakhira, the highest. Some mangrove regions have been already utilized for developmental activities, and Qatar needs to continue the program of mangrove conservation as a vital habitat for molluscs.
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