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
Cairns, Hoeksema, and van der Land, 1999 YES MINERAL ARAGONITE
Veron and Wallace, 1984 YES MINERAL ARAGONITE
Veron, 2000 YES MINERAL ARAGONITE
Faustino, 1927 YES MINERAL ARAGONITE
Wallace, 1999 YES MINERAL ARAGONITE
Crossland, 1952 YES MINERAL ARAGONITE
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Distribution

Range Description

This species is widespread, found in the northern Indian Ocean, the central Indo-Pacific, Australia, Japan and the East China Sea, the oceanic west Pacific. Wallace (1999) reports it from Oman.
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Physical Description

Diagnostic Description

Description

Colonies are subcorymbose with short thick branches. Redial corallites are of two sizes, are crowded and have prominent lower lips giving a scale-like appearance. Colour: commonly pale blue-grey, green or cream; less commonly bright blue. Abundance: Abundant on reef flats and shallow lagoons. Uncommon on exposed upper reef slopes and deep water (Veron, 1986).
  • Veron, J.E.N. (1986). Corals of Australia and the Indo-Pacific. Angus & Robertson Publishers, London.
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
This species occurs on shallow reef flats. It occurs on reef flats and shallow lagoons, also exposed upper reef slopes and deep water. It is found from 0-5 m.

Where zoning can be detected on reef flats, Acropora aspera tends to occur between the ranges of A. millepora (outer flat) and A. pulchra (inner flat) and overlapping with each species at the edges of its range. It can be confused with either species, but especially with A. pulchra, with which it can occur in dense stands (Wallace 1999).

General genus information: throughout its range, Acropora can be found on any stretch of reef and is often the dominant coral, especially along the reef front. Staghorn and plate forms flourish in sheltered areas, whereas clusters and semi-massive types can withstand more exposed conditions. Species that occur from the reef top to the reef slope become gradually more flattened with depth (Wood 1983).

Systems
  • Marine
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Depth range based on 63 specimens in 1 taxon.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 19 samples.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 0 - 65
  Temperature range (°C): 25.605 - 28.617
  Nitrate (umol/L): 0.088 - 1.979
  Salinity (PPS): 34.483 - 35.185
  Oxygen (ml/l): 4.505 - 4.685
  Phosphate (umol/l): 0.098 - 0.356
  Silicate (umol/l): 0.900 - 3.174

Graphical representation

Depth range (m): 0 - 65

Temperature range (°C): 25.605 - 28.617

Nitrate (umol/L): 0.088 - 1.979

Salinity (PPS): 34.483 - 35.185

Oxygen (ml/l): 4.505 - 4.685

Phosphate (umol/l): 0.098 - 0.356

Silicate (umol/l): 0.900 - 3.174
 
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
VU
Vulnerable

Red List Criteria
A4ce

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2014

Assessor/s
Aeby, G., Delbeek, J.T., Lovell, E.R., Richards, Z.T., Reboton, C. & Bass, D.

Reviewer/s
Livingstone, S., Polidoro, B. & Smith, J.

Contributor/s

Justification
This species is widespread and uncommon throughout its range. However, it is particularly susceptible to bleaching, disease, crown-of-thorns starfish predation, trade, and extensive reduction of coral reef habitat due to a combination of threats. Specific population trends are unknown but population reduction can be inferred from declines in habitat quality based on the combined estimates of both destroyed reefs and reefs at the critical stage of degradation within its range (Wilkinson 2004). Its threat susceptibility increases the likelihood of being lost within one generation in the future from reefs at a critical stage. Therefore, the estimated habitat degradation and loss of 37% over three generation lengths (30 years) is the best inference of population reduction and meets the threshold for Vulnerable under Criterion A4ce. It will be important to reassess this species in 10 years time because of predicted threats from climate change and ocean acidification.

History
  • 2008
    Vulnerable
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Population

Population
This species is uncommon.

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 particularly susceptible to bleaching, disease, and other threats and therefore population decline is based on both the percentage of destroyed reefs and critical reefs that are likely to be destroyed within 20 years (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 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
Decreasing
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Threats

Major Threats
Members of this genus have a low resistance and low tolerance to bleaching and disease, and are slow to recover. This species is found typically in shallow water and is particularly vulnerable to bleaching as well as human impacts.

Acanthaster planci, the crown-of-thorns starfish, has been observed preferentially preying upon corals of the genus Acropora (Colgan 1987). Crown-of-thorns starfish (COTS) (Acanthaster planci) are found throughout the Pacific and Indian Oceans, and the Red Sea. These starfish voracious predators of reef-building corals, with a preference for branching and tabular corals such as Acropora species. Populations of the crown-of-thorns starfish have greatly increased since the 1970s and have been known to wipe out large areas of coral reef habitat. Increased breakouts of COTS has become a major threat to some species, and have contributed to the overall decline and reef destruction in the Indo-Pacific region. The effects of such an outbreak include the reduction of abundance and surface cover of living coral, reduction of species diversity and composition, and overall reduction in habitat area.

Acropora species are in the top three genera collected for the aquarium trade and this species is known to be present in the trade (Delbeek pers. comm.). The total number of corals (live and raw) exported for this species in 2005 was 740.

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.

Coral disease has emerged as a serious threat to coral reefs worldwide and a major cause of reef deterioration (Weil et al. 2006). The numbers of diseases and coral species affected, as well as the distribution of diseases have all increased dramatically within the last decade (Porter et al. 2001, Green and Bruckner 2000, Sutherland et al. 2004, Weil 2004). Coral disease epizootics have resulted in significant losses of coral cover and were implicated in the dramatic decline of acroporids in the Florida Keys (Aronson and Precht 2001, Porter et al. 2001, Patterson et al. 2002). In the Indo-Pacific, disease is also on the rise with disease outbreaks recently reported from the Great Barrier Reef (Willis et al. 2004), Marshall Islands (Jacobson 2006) and the northwestern Hawaiian Islands (Aeby 2006). Increased coral disease levels on the GBR were correlated with increased ocean temperatures (Willis et al. 2007) supporting the prediction that disease levels will be increasing with higher sea surface temperatures. Escalating anthropogenic stressors combined with the threats associated with global climate change of increases in coral disease, frequency and duration of coral bleaching and ocean acidification place coral reefs in the Indo-Pacific at high risk of collapse.

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 the species’ range fall within Marine Protected Areas.

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. Recommended conservation measures include population surveys to monitor the effects of collecting for the aquarium trade, especially in Indonesia.

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., MPAs, 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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Wikipedia

Acropora aspera

Acropora aspera is a species of staghorn coral in the family Acroporidae. It is found on reef flats and in lagoons in very shallow water in the western Indo-Pacific Ocean.

Description[edit]

Acropora aspera is a scantily branching, colonial coral forming low clumps. The individual branches are slender and only taper towards the tips. The corallites, the little stony cups from which the polyps grow, vary in size and are crowded closely together. The lower lip of each corallite protrudes slightly. Acropora aspera varies in colour, being pale green, grey or brown, or occasionally pale blue.[2][3]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Acropora aspera is found in the Indian Ocean and western parts of the Pacific Ocean. It inhabits reef flats and lagoons and grows in water up to 5 metres (16 ft) deep. Where coral zoning occurs, it is found between the shallow water Acropora pulchra, which it closely resembles, and the deeper water Acropora millepora.[1]

Biology[edit]

Acropora aspera is a zooxanthellate coral which harbours symbiotic dinoflagelates in its tissues. The coral relies heavily on the energy produced during photosynthesis by these algae.[4] In a study off the coast of southern India it was found that this coral grew by extension of the branches and by calcification of the skeleton all year round, but that calcification was reduced in June to September, the south-west monsoon season. This was thought to be due to the greater cloud cover and larger amount of suspended sediment during that season resulting in reduced levels of photosynthesis.[5]

Status[edit]

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species lists Acropora aspera as being "Vulnerable". This is because, although it has a wide range, it is generally uncommon and populations are believed to be declining. It is particularly prone to bleaching, a process in which high sea temperatures or stress cause the coral to expel its zooxanthellae and turn white. Other threats it faces are general destruction of coral reefs, ocean acidification, high sea temperatures and coral diseases. The crown-of-thorns starfish feeds preferentially on Acropora species corals.[1] This starfish sometimes has sudden increases in population size which may threaten this coral locally.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Aeby, G., Delbeek, J.T., Lovell, E.R., Richards, Z.T., Reboton, C. & Bass, D. (2014). "Acropora aspera". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 28 August 2014. 
  2. ^ a b van der Land, Jacob (2012). "Acropora aspera (Dana, 1845)". World Register of Marine Species. Retrieved 2013-02-08. 
  3. ^ "Acropora aspera". Corals of the World. Australian Institute of Marine Science, Coral Reef Research. 2011. Retrieved 2013-02-08. 
  4. ^ "Acropora fact sheet". NOAA Fisheries. Retrieved 2013-02-07. 
  5. ^ Suresh, V. R.; Mathew, K. J. (1995). Growth of staghorn coral Acropora aspera (Dana) (Scleractinia: Acropridae) in relation to environmental factors at Kavaratti atoll (Lakshadweep Islands), India 24. pp. 175–176. 
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