Gastropod diversity at Pulau Punyit and the nearby shoreline – a reflection of Brunei’s vulnerable rocky intertidal communities
AbstractPulau Punyit (PPUN), a small islet on the South China Sea coastline of Brunei Darussalam, represents a significant portion of the country’s natural rocky-shore ecosystem. We carried out a rapid survey of the intertidal gastropod species richness at PPUN, and compared this with species richness at other nearby natural and artificial rocky shores [Tungku Punyit (TPUN), Pantai Jerudong (PJER), Jerudong Park Medical Centre (JPMC) and Pantai Tungku (TUNK)]. A total of thirty two (32) species were collected from all of the shores. Species richness was greatest at the two natural shores studied (numbering 21 and 22 species at PPUN and TPUN, respectively), while the artificial shores were relatively depauperate. The natural shores however differed in species composition, abundance and body size of gastropods. These attributes varied with shore height, and appeared to relate to height-specific differences in abiotic stresses at the shores - at PPUN the high-shore is more exposed to the wind and sun, whereas at TPUN the mid-shore experiences greater sedimentation and mainland acidic seepage. Faunistic differences between the artificial and natural shores (Bray-Curtis similarity analysis) seemingly associate more closely with degree of habitat availability and abiotic stress than with shore proximity. We conclude that the country’s rocky intertidal biodiversity, as reflected by the gastropod diversity, is mainly constituted by the natural rocky shore system. Because this is spatially constrained and vulnerable to locality-specific environmental stresses, this diversity is threatened and deserving of greater protection status.