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PloS one

Rapid, long-distance dispersal by pumice rafting.


PMID 22815770

Abstract

Pumice is an extremely effective rafting agent that can dramatically increase the dispersal range of a variety of marine organisms and connect isolated shallow marine and coastal ecosystems. Here we report on a significant recent pumice rafting and long-distance dispersal event that occurred across the southwest Pacific following the 2006 explosive eruption of Home Reef Volcano in Tonga. We have constrained the trajectory, and rate, biomass and biodiversity of transfer, discovering more than 80 species and a substantial biomass underwent a >5000 km journey in 7-8 months. Differing microenvironmental conditions on the pumice, caused by relative stability of clasts at the sea surface, promoted diversity in biotic recruitment. Our findings emphasise pumice rafting as an important process facilitating the distribution of marine life, which have implications for colonisation processes and success, the management of sensitive marine environments, and invasive pest species.

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14372 Pumice stone, granulated