Wagner et al. 2014

scientific_article | Mar Biodivers Rec

Mesophotic surveys of the flora and fauna at Johnston Atoll, Central Pacific Ocean

Wagner D, Kosaki RK, Spalding HL, Whitton RK, Pyle RL, Sherwood AR, Tsuda RT, Calcinai B

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Despite its extreme geographical isolation, numerous expeditions have surveyed the marine flora and fauna of Johnston Atoll. However, historical information about the marine biodiversity of Johnston is mostly limited to SCUBA surveys in shallow-waters (<30 m), and submersible observations in deeper waters (100–500 m). Extensive coral reefs, known as mesophotic coral ecosystems, exist between these two depth ranges at Johnston, but have remained largely unexplored. We used closed-circuit rebreathers to survey eleven sites at mesophotic depths (32–78 m) surrounding Johnston Atoll. A total of 130 species were recorded, including 99 species of fish, 15 species of corals, nine species of macroalgae, three species of echinoderms, three species of sponges and one species of squat lobster. Most species recorded during our mesophotic surveys have previously been recorded on shallow-water (<30 m) reefs at Johnston, with the exception of one black coral, one zoanthid, one squat lobster, two macroalgae, three sponges, and 22 fish, which represent new records for the atoll. As noted in previous studies, our surveys found a near absence of endemism, and recorded high proportions of species that are also known from the Hawaiian Archipelago. The similarity between the mesophotic biodiversity of Johnston Atoll and Hawai‘i provides further support for the strong connectivity between these two locations highlighted in previous studies.

Research sites

10.1017   s1755267214000785
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Depth range
32- 78 m

Mesophotic “relevance”
47x mentions

Word count
4433 words


Research focus
Overall benthic (groups) Fish

Johnston Atoll

Research platforms
Diving - Technical Rebreather
Author profiles
Randall Kosaki ( 10 pubs)
Richard Pyle ( 13 pubs)
Heather Spalding ( 10 pubs)
Daniel Wagner ( 18 pubs)
Research sites (dec deg)
Johnston Atoll
Unnamed site
Lat: 16.787 Long: -169.464

Johnston Atoll
Unnamed site
Lat: 16.759 Long: -169.532

Johnston Atoll
Unnamed site
Lat: 16.652 Long: -169.576