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
Wallace, 1999 YES MINERAL ARAGONITE
Veron, 2000 YES MINERAL ARAGONITE
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Distribution

Range Description

This species is found in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, the south-west and north-west Indian Ocean, the Arabian/Iranian Gulf, the northern Indian Ocean, the central Indo-Pacific, Australia, Southeast Asia, Japan and the East China Sea, the oceanic west Pacific, and the central Pacific.
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The staghorn coral Acropora nasuta is a common species across most of the Indo-Pacific, occurring in most reef habitats (Wallace 1999).

  • Wallace, C. 1999. Staghorn Corals of the World: a Revision of the genus Acropora. CSIRO, Collingwood, Victoria, Australia.
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Physical Description

Diagnostic Description

Description

Colonies are small bushes, tending towards developing small tables. Branches are slender. Radial corallites range from being relatively long and slender, often arranged in neat rows, or may be strongly appressed. Axial corallites may be no larger than the radials, or noticeably larger, both features occurring on the same colonies. The corals are cream to brown. This is a very common coral, though it is small and not conspicuous. It is found in a wide range of habitats, but not in rough water (Sheppard, 1998). Colonies are irregularly corymbose with tapering branches up to 12 mm wide. Radial corallites are usually in neat rows and are nariform in shape. Colour: Cream or pale brown with blue branch tips, cream with brown corallites or greenish-brown with purple or blue corallites. Abundance: occurs in almost all Acropora assemblages but is especially common on upper 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 in all Acropora assemblages, but especially those of upper reef slopes. It is found subtidally on reef edge, slope, and submerged reefs (Wallace 1999). This species is found from 3-15 m.

Systems
  • Marine
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Depth range based on 209 specimens in 2 taxa.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 70 samples.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 0 - 60
  Temperature range (°C): 22.219 - 28.423
  Nitrate (umol/L): 0.046 - 2.863
  Salinity (PPS): 34.338 - 35.506
  Oxygen (ml/l): 4.536 - 4.969
  Phosphate (umol/l): 0.076 - 0.497
  Silicate (umol/l): 0.523 - 3.784

Graphical representation

Depth range (m): 0 - 60

Temperature range (°C): 22.219 - 28.423

Nitrate (umol/L): 0.046 - 2.863

Salinity (PPS): 34.338 - 35.506

Oxygen (ml/l): 4.536 - 4.969

Phosphate (umol/l): 0.076 - 0.497

Silicate (umol/l): 0.523 - 3.784
 
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Associations

Dixson and Hay (2012) documented a remarkable mutualistic relationship between the staghorn coral Acropora nasuta and two goby fishes, Gobidon histrio and Paragobidon enchinocephalus, which are recruited by the coral to keep it free of Turtleweed (Chlorodesmis fastigiata). Within minutes of Turtleweed (or even a chemical extract from the Turtleweed) contacting the coral, the coral releases an odor that recruits gobies to trim the Turtleweed and dramatically reduce coral damage that would otherwise occur. Interestingly, only one of the two goby species, G. histrio, actually consumes the Turtleweed it removes. This goby normally produces toxic skin secretions that repel predators and contact with the Turtleweed appears to increase their toxicity.

  • Dixson, D.L. and M.E. Hay. 2012. Corals chemically cue mutualistic fishes to remove competing seaweeds. Science 338: 804-807.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Genomic DNA is available from 6 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
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 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. However, this species is susceptible to bleaching and disease and is collected for the aquarium trade, therefore it is listed as Near Threatened. 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 is a common species. It was found at six of six regions in Indonesia (Wallace et al. 2001). Found at 70 sites of 87 sites surveyed in the Marshall Islands (Richards pers. comm.).

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
Members of this genus have a low resistance and low tolerance to bleaching and disease, and are slow to recover.

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. It is not known to what extent this particular species is collected, or the extent of threat this presents. The total number of corals (live and raw) exported for this species in 2005 was 1,652.

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 nasuta

Acropora nasuta is a species of branching stony coral in the family Acroporidae. It is native to the western and central Indo-Pacific where it is found in shallow reef habitats. Like other corals of the genus Acropora, it is susceptible to coral bleaching and coral diseases and the IUCN has listed it as being "Near Threatened".

Description[edit]

Acropora nasuta is a small colonial coral that grows in clumps which tend to develop flat tops. The branches are tapering and up to 12 mm (0.5 in) wide. The radial corallites usually form neat rows, sometimes being long and slender and sometimes appressed. The axial corallites may be larger or the same size as the radial corallites. The colour of this coral is creamy-white or pale brown and the branch tips are sometimes bluish.[2]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Acropora nasuta is a common species and is found in the western and central Indo-Pacific. Its range extends from the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden and the east coast of Africa to India, Malaysia, Japan, Indonesia and Australia. This coral grows in shallow water, between three and fifteen metres (ten and fifty feet) deep, mostly on upper reef slopes and reef edges.[1]

Ecology[edit]

Fish often hide among the branches

Acropora nasuta is a zooxanthellate coral. This means that it has symbiotic dinoflagellate algae living within its tissues and these employ photosynthesis to make complex carbohydrates from which the coral benefits. Besides this, the coral gets nourishment from the polyps which project from the corallites at night and extend their tentacles to feed on plankton. There are usually barnacles of several species growing on the branches of the coral and certain species of small fish, crabs and shrimps live permanently among the branches.[3] The crown-of-thorns starfish (Acanthaster planci) preferentially feeds on Acropora species corals.[1]

Status[edit]

The main threat affecting Acropora nasuta is the destruction of the coral reefs where it lives. Although relatively common, it is a shallow water species and susceptible to bleaching and coral diseases. It is also collected for the reef aquarium trade. Corals in general are expected to be impacted by rising sea temperatures and ocean acidification. For these reasons, the IUCN has listed Acropora nasuta as being "Near Threatened".[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Richards, Z.; Delbeek, J.C.; Lovell, E.; Bass, D.; Aeby, G.; Reboton, C. (2008). "Acropora nasuta". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 2014-01-12. 
  2. ^ a b c Hoeksema, Bert (2013). "Acropora nasuta (Dana, 1846)". World Register of Marine Species. Retrieved 2014-01-12. 
  3. ^ Wallace, Carden (1999). Staghorn Corals of the World: A Revision of the Genus Acropora. Csiro Publishing. ISBN 0643102817. 
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