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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
Veron, 2000 YES MINERAL ARAGONITE
Cairns, Hoeksema, and van der Land, 1999 YES MINERAL ARAGONITE
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Distribution

Range Description

In the Indo-West Pacific, this species is found in the central Indian Ocean, the central Indo-Pacific, Eastern Australia, and the oceanic west Pacific. Rodrigues (Fenner et al. 2004) Indian Ocean (Fenner pers. comm.).

In the Eastern Tropical Pacific region, the species is present in: Mexico: Revillagigedo Archipelago, Cabo Pulmo (Reyes-Bonilla and Lopez-Perez 1998, Glynn and Ault 2000, Reyes-Bonilla 2003, Reyes-Bonilla et al. 2005); Panamá: Coiba Archipelago; recorded as Pavona cf. minuta (Guzman et al. 2003), and Gulf of Chiriqui (Guzman et al. in prep.); Clipperton Atoll (Glynn et al. 1996, Glynn and Ault 2000).
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Physical Description

Diagnostic Description

Description

This species forms massive colonies, sometimes large, but has tiny calices of 1 mm diameter or less. The sides of colonies show a typical Pavona pattern. On the tops of the columns, (which is the part most likely to be collected), corallites are lightly calcified such that they have thin walls and are partly detached from neighbours (Sheppard, 1998). Colonies are massive, divided into parallel or irregular ridges or hillocks. Corallites are small, giving colonies a smooth appearance; they have strongly alternating septo-costae. Colour: uniform grey. Abundance: uncommon but colonies may be very large, over 10 m in diameter (Veron, 1986).
  • Veron, J.E.N. (1986). Corals of Australia and the Indo-Pacific. Angus & Robertson Publishers, London.
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Type Information

Holotype for Pavona minuta Wells, 1954
Catalog Number: USNM 44786
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Invertebrate Zoology
Preparation: Dry
Locality: Ralik Chain, Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands, North Pacific Ocean
Depth (m): 9 to 22.9
  • Holotype: Wells. 1954. Prof. Pap. U.S. geol. Surv. 260-i: 441-442, pl.152, figs.5-6.
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
This species occurs in shallow, tropical reef environments. At various sites in the Gulf of Panama and Gulf of Chiriqui. Pavona minuta forms large colonies on upper reef slopes (Glynn et al. 1996). Growth forms range from hemispherical colonies (<3 m in diameter) to upright columns; in addition, on places exposed to strong turbulence, colonies are individually sculptured into a range of very different shapes (Glynn et al. 1996). The growth rates of P. minuta vary between 9.5 mm/yr and 13.8 mm/yr, at depths of 6-8 m and 16-17 m respectively (Glynn et al. 1996). The maximum size is at least 1 m. This species may be found from 6-25 m.

Occasionally, the puffer fish Arothron meleagris bites pieces of P. minuta (Glynn et al. 1996).

General genus information: Pavona is a fairly common coral that is found in most reef habitats. Some of the massive colonies are large, and the foliaceous ones may form extensive tracts (Wood 1983).

Systems
  • Marine
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Depth range based on 40 specimens in 1 taxon.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 30 samples.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 0 - 42.5
  Temperature range (°C): 21.407 - 28.432
  Nitrate (umol/L): 0.054 - 3.226
  Salinity (PPS): 34.400 - 35.635
  Oxygen (ml/l): 4.495 - 5.058
  Phosphate (umol/l): 0.074 - 0.548
  Silicate (umol/l): 0.900 - 5.408

Graphical representation

Depth range (m): 0 - 42.5

Temperature range (°C): 21.407 - 28.432

Nitrate (umol/L): 0.054 - 3.226

Salinity (PPS): 34.400 - 35.635

Oxygen (ml/l): 4.495 - 5.058

Phosphate (umol/l): 0.074 - 0.548

Silicate (umol/l): 0.900 - 5.408
 
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
NT
Near Threatened

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2014

Assessor/s
Hoeksema, B.W., Rogers, A. & Quibilan, M.C.

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

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 also moderately susceptible to bleaching and crown-of-thorns starfish predation. Specific population trends are unknown but population reduction can be inferred from estimated habitat loss (Wilkinson 2004). It is widespread and uncommon 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 22% 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, 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 is an uncommon species.

In the Eastern Tropical Pacific region the relative abundance of Pavona minuta is as follows:

Abundant: Clipperton Atoll (Glynn and Ault 2000);

Common: Coiba Archipelago (Guzmán et al. 2004), and is present at 36 sites across the Gulf of Chiriqui (Guzman et al., in prep.);

Rare: Mexico including the Revillagigedo Islands (Glynn and Ault 2000; Reyes-Bonilla 2003).

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

Major Threats
This species exhibited some high bleaching and significant mortality in the 1998 bleaching event in Palau (Brunno et al. 2001).

El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events are the most important source of natural disturbance controlling coral communities (Glynn 1990). Pavona species have a high sensitivity to extreme elevated temperatures that interfere with reproduction and recruitment (Glynn et al. 2000). El Niño disturbance could have perilous consequences for small populations of eastern Pacific reef corals (Glynn 1988).

Bryant et al. (1998), based on four anthropogenic factors (coastal development; overexploitation and destructive fishing practice; inland pollution and erosion, and marine pollution), estimated a high threat to coral reefs in the coast of Costa Rica, Panama and Colombia. High levels of siltation caused by accelerated coastal erosion have degraded coral reefs in Costa Rica, Colombia and Ecuador (Glynn 2001).

Other threats (Glynn et al. 2000): small colony size; slow skeletal growth; susceptibility to Acanthaster planci predation, and infrequent asexual fragmentation. Crown-of-thorns starfish (COTS) (Acanthaster planci) are found throughout the Pacific and Indian Oceans, and the Red Sea. These starfish are 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.

Present in multiple protected areas in the Eastern Tropical Pacific region:
Mexico: Cabo Pulmo National Park (IUCN category II), and Archipielago de Revillagigedo Biosphere Reserve (IUCN category Ia, VI).
Panama: Coiba National Park (IUCN category II); Coiba Special Zone of Marine Protection (IUCN category II), and Coiba National Park and its Special Zone of Marine Protection, World Heritage Site (UNESCO N (ii)(iii), C (iv)).
Included with corals in CITES appendix II.
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