Identifying hotspots of molluscan species richness on rocky intertidal reefs
A significant question faced by environmental managers is how muchsurvey effort is required in order to obtain an accurate representation of thespecies richness in an area. The appropriateness of rapid survey techniques foridentifying biodiverse hotspots has not been previously tested for molluscs onintertidal rocky reefs. We used species inventories from standardized 4-h searchsurveys to rank 13 intertidal reefs in terms of their species richness and thesewere then compared to cumulative species records following repeated surveys fromthe same sites. A total of 172 surveys were conducted during low water springtides over a 3 year period, with up to 20 surveys at a single site.Species richness in the inventories varied from 20 to 94 on the different reefs. There was a strong correlation between the number of species recorded in thestandardized inventory and the total species richness from cumulative surveyrecords (r = 0.969; P < 0.001).Importantly, the total species diversity recorded at each site was not relatedto the number of surveys that were conducted at that site(r = 0.110; P = 0.784). This confirmsthat a single standardized timed search produces a useful representation ofmolluscan species richness. The majority of molluscs recorded in this study wereendemic to Australia (59%) and, significantly, the number of endemics waspositively correlated to the total species richness found at each site(r = 0.992; P < 0.0001). Our dataprovide clear evidence for a local hotspot of molluscan species richness andendemism on the northern side of Bass Point, Shellharbour. We suggest that on alocal scale biodiversity hotspots should only be identified as those sites thatcontain significantly more species than the local average. Two standarddeviations above the mean appears to be an appropriate cut-off for identifyinglocal biodiversity hotspots.