Overview

Brief Summary

Biology

zooxanthellate or azooxanthellate
  • UNESCO-IOC Register of Marine Organisms
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Comprehensive Description

Biology: Skeleton

More info
AuthorSkeleton?Mineral or Organic?MineralPercent Magnesium
Cairns, 2000 YES MINERAL ARAGONITE
Cairns, 1978 YES MINERAL ARAGONITE
Cairns, Hoeksema, and van der Land, 1999 YES MINERAL ARAGONITE
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Distribution

Range Description

Only known to occur in the Gulf of Mexico off the south-west coast of Florida (Dawson 2002, Culter et al. 2006).
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
This species is found on hard substrates at 60-75 m (Culter et al. 2006). This species may be found as shallow as 25 m.

Systems
  • Marine
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Depth range based on 53 specimens in 1 taxon.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 47 samples.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 36 - 162.5
  Temperature range (°C): 19.285 - 25.871
  Nitrate (umol/L): 0.823 - 9.326
  Salinity (PPS): 36.053 - 36.446
  Oxygen (ml/l): 3.681 - 4.960
  Phosphate (umol/l): 0.091 - 0.468
  Silicate (umol/l): 1.258 - 3.912

Graphical representation

Depth range (m): 36 - 162.5

Temperature range (°C): 19.285 - 25.871

Nitrate (umol/L): 0.823 - 9.326

Salinity (PPS): 36.053 - 36.446

Oxygen (ml/l): 3.681 - 4.960

Phosphate (umol/l): 0.091 - 0.468

Silicate (umol/l): 1.258 - 3.912
 
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Dispersal

Depth range

25-159 m
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
DD
Data Deficient

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
This species is listed as Data Deficient because there is no information available about its current population trend or species specific threats. However, this species could fall into a threatened category if more information was known. Research on a number of aspects of this species’ ecology is recommended. This assessment should be re-evaluated in 10 years to include addition information and to determine the effects of continued or increased threats from climate change and ocean acidification.
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Population

Population
Unknown. Identified in surveys conducted on Pulley Ridge as one of the less common corals in a multi-species assemblage (Culter et al. 2006).

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 particularly susceptible to bleaching, disease, and other threats and therefore population decline is based on both the percentage of destroyed reefs and critical reefs that are likely to be destroyed within 20 years (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 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
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
Listed on CITES Appendix II. Recorded from Pulley Ridge Habitat Area of Particular Concern. In US waters, it is illegal to harvest corals for commercial purposes.

Further research is needed into the taxonomic status of this species, their distribution range, threats, and population status. (Aronson, R., Precht, W., Moore, J., Weil, E., and Bruckner, A. pers. comm.)

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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