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
Dunn, 1970 YES MINERAL ARAGONITE
Veron, 2000 YES MINERAL ARAGONITE
Crossland, 1952 YES MINERAL ARAGONITE
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Distribution

Range Description

In the Indo-West Pacific, this species is found in the Red Sea, the southwest and northern Indian Ocean, the central Indo-Pacific, Australia, Southeast Asia, Japan and the East China Sea, and the oceanic West Pacific. It is also found in Madagascar (Fenner pers. comm.)
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Physical Description

Diagnostic Description

Description

Colonies are distinctive, massive, and often exceed 1 metre across. Corallites are round and closely packed, plocoid, and formed by extratentacular budding. They are 8 to 10 mm diameter. The most characteristic feature of Diploastrea heliopora is its corallite wall structure. Walls are not solid but are delineated or formed by the thickened outer ends of the septa, which are not attached to each other laterally. This feature can even be detected beneath the tissue of the live corals. Shallow and mid-depths are preferred, almost always in sheltered water. The largest colonies are usually seen in silty environments, so it is commonly found on protected fringing reefs and back reef slopes, often beside sandy patches. Although it may grow to great size and colonies are by no means rare, vast expanses dominated by this species, as may occur in Indian Ocean atoll lagoons, have not been seen in areas such as the Red Sea. The coral is always a uniform brown. (Sheppard, 1998 <308>) Colonies are dome-shaped with a very even surface and may be up to 2 m high and 7 m in diameter. The skeleton is very dense. Corallites are plocoid. Columellae are large. Septa are equal and are thick at the wall and thin where they join the columellae. Polyps are extended only at night. Colour: usually uniform cream or grey, sometimes greenish. Abundance: occurs in both exposed and protected reef habitats but is usually uncommon except on some back reef margins. (Veron, 1986 <57>) May form large, massive domed colonies up to 5 m across or more. Corallites closely packed and domed, 10-20 mm across, with clearly visible columellae and distinct septal walls. Colour: uniform pale green to grey or cream. Habitat: diverse. (Richmond, 1997)
  • 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 in shallow, tropical reef environments. It is found on both exposed and protected reef environments. This species is found occasionally on most reefs, especially on upper reef slopes or in areas exposed to swell or currents. Colonies generally grow to a large size, and it is common to find some several meters in diameter.

Small gobies are often associated with this coral and can be seen lying on the surface or moving around in search of food (Wood 1983). This species is found in the outer reef channel and in lagoons. This species is found to at least 30 m.

Systems
  • Marine
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Depth range based on 184 specimens in 1 taxon.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 68 samples.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 0 - 45
  Temperature range (°C): 25.480 - 28.540
  Nitrate (umol/L): 0.054 - 0.923
  Salinity (PPS): 33.101 - 35.472
  Oxygen (ml/l): 4.508 - 4.773
  Phosphate (umol/l): 0.081 - 0.228
  Silicate (umol/l): 0.523 - 3.925

Graphical representation

Depth range (m): 0 - 45

Temperature range (°C): 25.480 - 28.540

Nitrate (umol/L): 0.054 - 0.923

Salinity (PPS): 33.101 - 35.472

Oxygen (ml/l): 4.508 - 4.773

Phosphate (umol/l): 0.081 - 0.228

Silicate (umol/l): 0.523 - 3.925
 
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Diploastrea heliopora

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


There are 4 barcode sequences available from BOLD and GenBank.  Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.  See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.

AAGAGAGTATTCCCTTTAACTGATTGCAATAAATGTCATACATTT------------------------GGGCTTACTGGA---------TCCTCAGAGACTGTACGCAAAAATTTGTCAGTGCATTGTCCTCAACATTCTAGA------------------------------------------------------------------CCAACCACAGATAAGGAGTTTGGGTATTATTTAGCAGGATTGATAGAAGGAGGTGGA---------------------------------------------------------------------------AGTATAGTGGTTAGTAAA---------------------------------------------------------------------GACAAAGGTTATATTTTCTGTTTTCATCTAAAAGACGTATCA------------------------------ACCGCTTATTATATTAAAAAACGTTTA---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------GGTTTTGGT------------------TCTATGGTAAAACCAAAAAATAAAAAAGCA------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ATAAACTTAACT
-- end --

Download FASTA File
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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Diploastrea heliopora

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 4
Specimens with Barcodes: 4
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Genomic DNA is available from 4 specimens with morphological vouchers housed at Queensland Museum
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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
DeVantier, L., Hodgson, G., Huang, D., Johan, O., Licuanan, A., Obura, D., Sheppard, C., Syahrir, M. & Turak, E.

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 harvested for the aquarium trade. Specific population trends are unknown but population reduction can be inferred from estimated habitat loss (Wilkinson 2004). It is widespread and common throughout its range 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 (60 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 moderately susceptible to a number of threats, 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 uncommon, but sometimes very 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
Decreasing
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Threats

Major Threats
This species is targeted for the aquarium trade. Indonesia is the largest exporter with an annual quota of 450 live pieces in 2005. The total number of corals (live and raw) exported for this species in 2005 was 1,353.

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.

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

Diploastrea heliopora

Diploastrea heliopora, known commonly as the Diploastrea brain coral or Honeycomb coral among other vernacular names, is a species of hard coral in the family Diploastreidae.

Diploastrea heliopora is widespread throughout the tropical waters of the Indo-West Pacific region, Red Sea included.[2]

This species can build colonies in dome-shaped up to 2 meters high and 5 metres across.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ DeVantier, L., Hodgson, G., Huang, D., Johan, O., Licuanan, A., Obura, D., Sheppard, C., Syahrir, M. & Turak, E. 2008. Diploastrea heliopora. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.1. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 17 October 2013.
  2. ^ http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/133231/0
  3. ^ http://coral.aims.gov.au/factsheet.jsp?speciesCode=0134
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