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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
den Hartog, 1980 YES MINERAL ARAGONITE
Cairns, Hoeksema, and van der Land, 1999 YES MINERAL ARAGONITE
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Distribution

occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

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Range Description

This species occurs in the Caribbean, southern Gulf of Mexico, Florida (including the Florida Middle Grounds), and the Bahamas.

This species has a questionable record from Brazil.
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National Distribution

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

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Global Range: (20,000-2,500,000 square km (about 8000-1,000,000 square miles)) Moderately widespread distribution in the tropical western Atlantic, including the Gulf of Mexico, southern Florida, NW Caribbean, lesser Antilles, Curacao and Bonaire.

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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat Type: Marine

Comments: Overall depth range from 15-80 m, but typically occurs from 30-50 m on deeper reef communities.

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Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
This species is found at intermediate to deep fore reef and lagoon habitats, edges of channels, and at the base of the reef, in hard ground areas and in soft substrate. Occurs from 10-80 m (Reed 1985) though most common from 15-25 m.

Systems
  • Marine
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Depth range based on 51 specimens in 1 taxon.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 29 samples.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 10 - 62.5
  Temperature range (°C): 22.044 - 27.807
  Nitrate (umol/L): 0.140 - 3.012
  Salinity (PPS): 36.143 - 36.325
  Oxygen (ml/l): 4.469 - 4.895
  Phosphate (umol/l): 0.042 - 0.205
  Silicate (umol/l): 1.232 - 2.688

Graphical representation

Depth range (m): 10 - 62.5

Temperature range (°C): 22.044 - 27.807

Nitrate (umol/L): 0.140 - 3.012

Salinity (PPS): 36.143 - 36.325

Oxygen (ml/l): 4.469 - 4.895

Phosphate (umol/l): 0.042 - 0.205

Silicate (umol/l): 1.232 - 2.688
 
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.

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Migration

Non-Migrant: No. All populations of this species make significant seasonal migrations.

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.

SEDENTARY

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Population Biology

Number of Occurrences

Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.

Estimated Number of Occurrences: 21 - 80

Comments: Information is needed on the number of occurrences in the tropical western Atlantic.

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Global Abundance

1000 - 2500 individuals

Comments: Restricted to complex reef communities, including fringing reefs, spur and groove reefs, transitonal reefs, deeper intermediate reefs and deep reef slopes.

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General Ecology

A73LAN01FCUS: solitary discoid growth form; more aggressive than congener.

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Life History and Behavior

Reproduction

No information on reproductive ecology from resources consulted.

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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G3 - Vulnerable

Reasons: Moderately widespread distribution in the tropical western Atlantic but limited to structurally complex reef communities. No specific threats cited for species and very little known concerning life history strategies but may be similar to congener.

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IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2008

Assessor/s
Aronson, R., Bruckner, A., Moore, J., Precht, B. & E. Weil

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. Specific population trends are unknown but population reduction can be inferred from estimated habitat loss (Wilkinson 2004). It is widespread in deeper environments albeit at low abundances, and threats operating are not known to be resulting in any population declines and extirpations have not been observed. When performing presence/absence surveys, these corals are commonly encountered. However, the current population trend is unknown due to limited surveys in deeper reef environments, and because quantitative survey methods may overlook the species given the small size of the colonies. Therefore, the estimated habitat loss of 10% 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 and this species is Least Concern. However, because of predicted threats from climate change and ocean acidification it will be important to reassess this species in 10 years or sooner, particularly if the species is also observed to disappear from reefs currently at the critical stage of reef degradation.
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Global Short Term Trend: Relatively stable (=10% change)

Comments: Information needed on the status and trend of extant populations.

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Population

Population
This species occurs at low abundances, generally as solitary polyps but occasionally in small groups.

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

Degree of Threat: D : Unthreatened throughout its range, communities may be threatened in minor portions of the range or degree of variation falls within natural variation

Comments: No specific threats cited but may be similar to S. cubensis.

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Major Threats
This species is susceptible to bleaching and occasionally observed with disease (white plague), but only low levels of mortality have been observed.

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

Biological Research Needs: Data is needed on colony growth, reproduction and recruitment.

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Global Protection: Few to several (1-12) occurrences appropriately protected and managed

Comments: Numerous populations in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, Biscayne National Park and Dry Tortugas, Florida.

Needs: Deeper reef communities need to be included in marine protected areas.

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Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
Listed on CITES Appendix II. In the US, it is present in many MPAs, including Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, Biscayne N.P., Dry Tortugas National Park, and Buck Island Reef National Monument. Also present in Hol Chan Marine Reserve (Belize), Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park (Bahamas). In US waters, it is illegal to harvest corals for commercial purposes.

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.
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Wikipedia

Scolymia lacera

Scolymia lacera, the fleshy disk coral, is a species of stony coral in the family Mussidae. It occurs on reefs in shallow waters in the Caribbean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico, the Bahamas, Bermuda and southern Florida.

Contents

Description

Scolymia lacera is a coral with a single, solitary polyp and does not increase in size by budding as do colonial species of coral. It is a small species with a diameter of up to 6 centimetres (2.4 in). The radially-running ridges in the stony cup which it secretes can be seen through the fleshy body of the polyp. Its colour is variable and is usually some shade of greenish-brown.[3] Scolymia lacera is very similar in appearance to Scolimia cubensis which occupies much the same range. The differences are mostly in the layout of the septa, the miniature ridges in the calcareous calyces in which the polyps sit. S. lacera tends to occupy better lit positions while S. cubensis is in less well lit locations. Where the two come in contact, S. lacera is more aggressive.[4]

Distribution and habitat

Scolymia lacera is found in the Caribbean Sea, the southern half of the Gulf of Mexico, the Bahamas and southern Florida.[1] It grows on reefs, rocky outcrops and steep reef slopes at depths of between 15 and 80 metres (49 and 260 ft).[3]

Biology

Scolymia lacera contains single-celled symbiotic algae called zooxanthellae in its tissues. These are photosynthetic and use energy from the sun to produce organic compounds from which the coral also benefits. Much of its energy needs are supplied in this way but it also extends its ring of short tentacles to catch plankton, feeding mostly at night. Scolymia lacera is an aggressive coral that attacks neighbouring corals that might deprive it of light. It does this by extruding filaments several centimetres long from its mesentery.[3] When these come in contact with another coral they secrete enzymes that in the course of several hours digest its soft tissues. Smaller corals may be killed by this attack while larger individuals may have the part within reach stripped back to the skeleton.[5]

Status

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species lists this species as being of "Least concern". No specific threats are known for this species nor is it known whether the population of Scolymia lacera is declining, but corals in general are threatened by degradation of their reef habitats. Some of the factors affecting corals are a rise in sea temperature and consequent coral bleaching, increased severity of storms, ocean acidification, coral disease and various human impacts.[1]

References

  1. ^ a b c Aronson, R.; Bruckner, A.; Moore, J.; Precht, B.; Weil, E. (2008). "Scolymia lacera". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/132874/0. Retrieved 2012-10-20.
  2. ^ van der Land, Jacob (2012). "Scolymia lacera (Pallas, 1766)". World Register of Marine Species. http://www.marinespecies.org/aphia.php?p=taxdetails&id=287853. Retrieved 2012-10-20.
  3. ^ a b c Colin, Patrick L. (1978). Marine Invertebrates and Plants of the Living Reef. T.F.H. Publications. p. 275–278. ISBN 0-86622-875-6. 
  4. ^ Wells, J. W. (1971). "Note on the Scleractinian Corals Scolymia lacera and S. cubensis in Jamaica". Bulletin of Marine Science 21 (4): 960–963. 
  5. ^ "Aggressive Behavior". Coral Reef Biology. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 2012-08-17. http://coris.noaa.gov/about/biology/. Retrieved 2012-10-21.
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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: Zlatarski and Estalella (1982) split this species into 2 subspecies and 2 forma of 1 of the subspecies, but no one else does. See Lang (1971) and Wells (1971) for further taxonomic notes.

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