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

Range Description

This species is widespread, found in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, the south-west and northern Indian Ocean, the central Indo-Pacific, Australia, Southeast Asia, Japan and the East China Sea, the oceanic west Pacific, the central Pacific, and the Northwest Hawaiian Islands and Johnston Atoll. It is found in Palau (Randall 1995). It is found in Pitcairn (Wallace 1999).
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Physical Description

Diagnostic Description

Description

This species forms horizontal tables. Branches show considerable anastomosing, so that the central portions of tables may become solid plates. Branchlets and elongated axial corallites turn upwards, vertically or at irregular angles, over the entire surface of the table. These are generally more individual and pronounced than in A. hyacinthus. Many branchlets also continue horizontally. The coenosteum is rough, with long cylindrical radial corallites. Branch tips may be very similar to those of A. pharaonis, but the two species are distinguishable by colony shape. This species is common in shallow water to about 20 m depth, but only in areas without strong wave action. It prefers well lit habitats, and is therefore often found in back reef conditions where there are reflective sandy patches (Sheppard, 1998). Colonies are wide flat tables which are thin and finely structured. Fine upward projecting branchlets have exsert axial corallites. Polyps are frequently extended during the day. Colour: Uniform pale cream, brown or blue. Abundance: one of the most abundant corals of upper reef slopes and it may occur in lagoons and lower reef slopes (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 in shallow, tropical reef environments. It is found on upper reef slopes and lagoons. It is found subtidally on reef slopes and submerged reefs, not usually intertidally (Wallace 1999).

Populations in the Hawaiian Archipelago become sexually mature during the early summer (Kenyon et al. 2007). Acropora cytherea likely spawns annually in October in French Polynesia (Carroll et al. 2006). This species is found from 3-25 m.

A. cytherea, along with M. aequituberculata, is the dominant coral species on the reef slope of central Vietnam reefs at a depth of 2-6 m (Latypov 2001).

Systems
  • Marine
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Depth range based on 1051 specimens in 1 taxon.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 942 samples.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 0 - 61.5
  Temperature range (°C): 23.541 - 28.796
  Nitrate (umol/L): 0.032 - 2.863
  Salinity (PPS): 34.370 - 35.483
  Oxygen (ml/l): 4.514 - 4.953
  Phosphate (umol/l): 0.073 - 0.497
  Silicate (umol/l): 0.900 - 1.995

Graphical representation

Depth range (m): 0 - 61.5

Temperature range (°C): 23.541 - 28.796

Nitrate (umol/L): 0.032 - 2.863

Salinity (PPS): 34.370 - 35.483

Oxygen (ml/l): 4.514 - 4.953

Phosphate (umol/l): 0.073 - 0.497

Silicate (umol/l): 0.900 - 1.995
 
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
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2008

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

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 very 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 (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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Population

Population
This species is common, and conspicuous.

This species is the most widespread and abundant of the Acropora species in the Hawaiian Archipelago with its highest densities in this area found in the French Frigate Shoals (Kenyon 1992). In the French Frigate Shoals, it has a patchy distribution with several areas of high abundance (Kenyon et al. 2006). Only two specimens had been recorded in the main Hawaiian Islands until August 2006 when two colonies were observed by divers at Mana Reef, Kauai (Kenyon et al. 2007).

On the outer reef flat of central Vietnam's reefs, A. cytherea is one of two species that dominate in both degree of substrate coverage and size of many circled colonies reaching 3 m across (Latypov 2001).

It was found at 55 sites of 87 sites surveyed in the Marshall Islands (Richards pers. comm.).

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
Members of this genus have a low resistance and low tolerance to bleaching and disease, and are slow to recover. Three different diseases are recorded for this species (Willis et al. 2005) and three different (total six diseases) found in the northern Hawaiian Islands (Aeby 2006).

Threats include coral removal and harvesting for display in aquariums and for the curio-trade. The total number of corals (live and raw) exported for this species in 2005 was 384.

Acanthaster planci, the crown-of-thorns starfish, has been observed preferentially preying upon corals of the genus Acropora (Colgan 1987). This species is particularly susceptible to crown-of-thorns predation, storm damage, and bleaching (Richards pers. comm.). 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.

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

Acropora cytherea

Acropora cytherea is a stony coral which forms horizontal table like structures. It occurs in the Indo-Pacific Ocean in areas with little wave action, favouring back reef environments from 3 to 20 m (10 to 66 ft) depth.

Description[edit]

Acropora cytherea is a colonial species of coral that grows in large horizontal plates. These are formed of many tiny branchlets growing vertically or at an angle and others growing horizontally to extend the colony. They may branch and link together and near the centre the plates may become a solid mass of joined branchlets. The surface of the coral is covered by a thin layer of living tissue. This has a rough surface and contains zooxanthella, symbiotic, unicellular, photosynthetic algae. These give the coral its cream or pale brown colour (occasionally pale blue).[2][3] The calcium carbonate skeleton is secreted by many small polyps which are joined together through an interconnecting network of channels inside the skeleton. At night, and sometimes during the day, the polyps protrude from the skeleton and extend their tentacles to feed. At other times, they contract back into the safety of the skeleton.[4] In older specimens, particularly those exceeding 2 metres (6 ft 7 in) in diameter, the regular structure sometimes breaks down near the centre and there are growth anomalies. It has been found that these are not deleterious to the survival of the coral and may be caused by stress factors such as raised sea temperatures.[5]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Acropora cytherea is one of the most plentiful members of the genus Acropora. It is found in the Indo-Pacific Ocean from the Red Sea and the east coast of Africa to India, the China Sea, Japan, Australia, Micronesia and Hawaii. It is found below low tide mark in clear shallow water with little wave action, in lagoons and upper reef slopes and back reef slopes.[2][1]

Ecology[edit]

Several small crabs are obligate associates of corals, feeding on coral tissues but protecting the coral from attack by predators such as the crown-of-thorns starfish. One of these, Cymo melanodactylus, lives in association with Acropora cytherea but its low numbers (fewer than three per coral) mean that its host suffers little harm. In the Chagos Archipelago these crabs have shown a change in their behaviour and have been found in large numbers infesting diseased and dying corals. In 2010 in the Archipelago, infestations of over 45 of these crabs were found on individual heads of A. cytherea exhibiting dead and dying tissue. The crabs were in close proximity to the damaged tissues but it was unclear whether the crabs were the original cause of the damage or whether they had moved in to exploit the already dying tissues.[6]

Status[edit]

Acropora cytherea is considered by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species to be of "Least concern". This is because it has a wide range and in many locations it is one of the more abundant reef building species.[1] One of the threats it faces is from the voracious crown-of-thorns starfish which has become more abundant in the Pacific and Indian Oceans since about 1970 and has periodical breakouts when its numbers increase dramatically. Apart from predators, corals in general are at risk from rising sea temperatures, violent storms, ocean acidification, bleaching and coral diseases.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Richards, Z.; Delbeek, J. C.; Lovell, E.; Bass, D.; Aeby, G.; Reboton, C. (2008). "Acropora cytherea". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 2013-01-27. 
  2. ^ a b c van der Land, Jacob (2012). "Acropora cytherea (Dana, 1846)". World Register of Marine Species. Retrieved 2013-01-16. 
  3. ^ "Acropora cytherea". Corals of the World. Australian Institute of Marine Science. 2011. Retrieved 2013-01-18. 
  4. ^ Dorit, R. L.; Walker, W. F.; Barnes, R. D. (1991). Zoology. Saunders College Publishing. pp. 611–612. ISBN 978-0-03-030504-7. 
  5. ^ Irikawa, A.; Casareto, B. E.; Suzuki. Y.; Agostini, S.; Hidaka, M,; van Woesik, R. (2011). "Growth anomalies on Acropora cytherea corals". Marine Pollution Bulletin 62 (8): 1702–1707. doi:10.1016/j.marpolbul.2011.05.033. PMID 21704344. 
  6. ^ Pratchett, M. S.; Graham, N. A. J.; Sheppard, Charles R. C.; Mayes, B. (2010). "Are infestations of Cymo melanodactylus killing Acropora cytherea in the Chagos archipelago?". Coral Reefs 29 (4): 941. doi:10.1007/s00338-010-0654-x. ISSN 0722-4028. 
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