Overview

Brief Summary

Biology

zooxanthellate
  • UNESCO-IOC Register of Marine Organisms
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Comprehensive Description

Biology: Skeleton

More info
AuthorSkeleton?Mineral or Organic?MineralPercent Magnesium
Veron, 2000 YES MINERAL ARAGONITE
Cairns, Hoeksema, and van der Land, 1999 YES MINERAL ARAGONITE
Veron and Pichon, 1982 YES MINERAL ARAGONITE
Crossland, 1952 YES MINERAL ARAGONITE
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Distribution

Range Description

This species is found in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, southwest Indian Ocean, northern Indian Ocean, central Indo-Pacific, north and west Australia, eastern Australia, South-east Asia, Japan and East China Sea, oceanic West Pacific, and the central Pacific.
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Physical Description

Diagnostic Description

Description

Colonies are hemispherical or encrusting. Calices are 2.5-4 mm in diameter, circular in outline, with thick walls. There are usually six thick pali which are in contact forming a crown. All septal structures are heavily granulated. Colour: brown or green, usually with distinctively coloured oral discs and pale tips to the tentacles (Veron, 1986).
  • Sheppard, C.R.C. (1987). Coral species of the Indian Ocean and adjacent seas: a synonymised compilation and some regional distribution patterns. Atoll Research Bulletin Nr 307
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
This species is found in subtidal reef environments, especially lagoons, generally to depths of 30 m. In the Red Sea this species is a relatively inconspicuous coral found on reef slopes down to 20 m deep (Sheppard and Sheppard 1991).

Systems
  • Marine
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Depth range based on 121 specimens in 1 taxon.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 36 samples.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 0 - 10
  Temperature range (°C): 25.480 - 28.617
  Nitrate (umol/L): 0.088 - 0.923
  Salinity (PPS): 34.483 - 35.198
  Oxygen (ml/l): 4.544 - 4.685
  Phosphate (umol/l): 0.081 - 0.171
  Silicate (umol/l): 0.900 - 3.776

Graphical representation

Depth range (m): 0 - 10

Temperature range (°C): 25.480 - 28.617

Nitrate (umol/L): 0.088 - 0.923

Salinity (PPS): 34.483 - 35.198

Oxygen (ml/l): 4.544 - 4.685

Phosphate (umol/l): 0.081 - 0.171

Silicate (umol/l): 0.900 - 3.776
 
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.

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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
NT
Near Threatened

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2008

Assessor/s
Sheppard, A., Fenner, D., Edwards, A., Abrar, M. & Ochavillo, D.

Reviewer/s
Livingstone, S., Polidoro, B. & Smith, J. (Global Marine Species Assessment)

Contributor/s

Justification
The most important known threat for this species is extensive reduction of coral reef habitat due to a combination of threats. However, this species is also highly collected for the aquarium trade. Specific population trends are unknown but population reduction can be inferred from estimated habitat loss (Wilkinson 2004). This species is widespread and common within its range, with low susceptibility to bleaching and disease, and therefore is likely to be more resilient to habitat loss and reef degradation because of an assumed large effective population size that is highly connected and/or stable with enhanced genetic variability. Therefore, the estimated habitat loss of 20% from reefs already destroyed within its range is the best inference of population reduction since it may survive in coral reefs already at the critical stage of degradation (Wilkinson 2004). This inference of population reduction over three generation lengths (30 years) does not meet the threshold of a threat category. However, since this population reduction estimate is close to a threatened threshold, and because this species is highly susceptible to harvesting, it is likely to be one of the species lost on some reefs currently at the critical stage of degradation and therefore is Near Threatened. Predicted threats from climate change and ocean acidification make it important to reassess this species in 10 years or sooner, particularly if the species is actually observed to disappear from reefs currently at the critical stage of reef degradation.
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Population

Population
This species is common.

There is no species specific population information available for this species. However, there is evidence that overall coral reef habitat has declined, and this is used as a proxy for population decline for this species. This species is more resilient to some of the threats faced by corals and therefore population decline is estimated using the percentage of destroyed reefs only (Wilkinson 2004). We assume that most, if not all, mature individuals will be removed from a destroyed reef and that on average, the number of individuals on reefs are equal across its range and proportional to the percentage of destroyed reefs. Reef losses throughout the species' range have been estimated over three generations, two in the past and one projected into the future.

The age of first maturity of most reef building corals is typically three to eight years (Wallace 1999) and therefore we assume that average age of mature individuals is greater than eight years. Furthermore, based on average sizes and growth rates, we assume that average generation length is 10 years, unless otherwise stated. Total longevity is not known, but likely to be more than ten years. Therefore any population decline rates for the Red List assessment are measured over at least 30 years. Follow the link below for further details on population decline and generation length estimates.

Population Trend
Unknown
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Threats

Major Threats
Goniopora is in the top five genera in the aquarium trade (Wabnitz et al. 2003). In Indonesia, the catch quota for this species is 47,000 per year. In one area, 360 Goniopora were collected over 7 months (Terangi Indonesian Coral Reef Foundation, unpublished data). Although disease risk is likely to be low for species of this genus (Aeby pers comm.), Goniopora species are moderately susceptible to bleaching in the western Indian Ocean (McClanahan et al. 2007), and exhibit low susceptibility in the Great Barrier Reef (Marshall and Baird 2000).

In general, the major threat to corals is global climate change, in particular, temperature extremes leading to bleaching and increased susceptibility to disease, increased severity of ENSO events and storms, and ocean acidification. In addition to global climate change, corals are threatened by a number of localized threats. Localized threats to corals include fisheries, human development (industry, settlement, tourism, and transportation), changes in native species dynamics (competitors, predators, pathogens and parasites), invasive species (competitors, predators, pathogens and parasites), dynamite fishing, chemical fishing, pollution from agriculture and industry, domestic pollution, sedimentation, and human recreation and tourism activities. The severity of these combined threats to the global population of each individual species is not known.
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
All corals are listed on CITES Appendix II. Parts of this species distribution fall within several Marine Protected Areas within its range.

Recommended measures for conserving this species include research in taxonomy, population, abundance and trends, ecology and habitat status, threats and resilience to threats, restoration action; identification, establishment and management of new protected areas; expansion of protected areas; recovery management; and disease, pathogen and parasite management. Artificial propagation and techniques such as cryo-preservation of gametes may become important for conserving coral biodiversity.

Having timely access to national-level trade data for CITES analysis reports would be valuable for monitoring trends this species. The species is targeted by collectors for the aquarium trade and fisheries management is required for the species, e.g., Marine Protected Areas, quotas, size limits, etc. Consideration of the suitability of species for aquaria should also be included as part of fisheries management, and population surveys should be carried out to monitor the effects of harvesting.
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