Hurricane effects on molluscan death assemblages and their facies.
Wysong, Eric J.
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Hurricanes are major agents in sediment transport, but modern coral reef studies indicate that limited transport occurs among molluscan death assemblages. Such studies were largely conducted in environments with partially restricted bays that may limit transport. In contrast, few studies have been conducted in open-coastal reef environments. Three open-coastal leeward reef sites were studied in San Salvador, Bahamas, four and eight months following Hurricane Frances to determine the degree of out-of-habitat transport (habitat mixing) in molluscan skeletal assemblages. Results indicate that: (1) habitat mixing is the norm; (2) consequently, the taxonomic compositions of death assemblages do not vary greatly between substrates; but, (3) diversity metrics and frequency of fragmentation are better differentiators between substrates and temporal intervals following the hurricane. As a result of storms/hurricanes, these environments are constantly being mixed; therefore, interpretation of the ecological fidelity of molluscs within fossil patch reefs must proceed cautiously.