Overview

Brief Summary

Biology

zooxanthellate
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Source: World Register of Marine Species

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Distribution

Range Description

This species occurs in the central Indo-Pacific and South China Sea.
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Source: IUCN

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Physical Description

Type Information

Holotype for Porites cocosensis Wells, 1950
Catalog Number: USNM 44339
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Invertebrate Zoology
Preparation: Dry
Collector(s): Gibson-Hill
Year Collected: 1941
Locality: Cocos Keeling Islands, On Middle Section Of Barrier, Australia, Indian Ocean
  • Holotype: Wells. 1950. Bull. Raffles Mus. 22: 47-48, pl.13, figs.3-4.
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© Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Invertebrate Zoology

Source: National Museum of Natural History Collections

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Paratype for Porites cocosensis Wells, 1950
Catalog Number: USNM 44340
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Invertebrate Zoology
Preparation: Dry
Collector(s): Gibson-Hill
Year Collected: 1941
Locality: Cocos Keeling Islands, On Middle Section Of Barrier, Australia, Indian Ocean
  • Paratype: Wells. 1950. Bull. Raffles Mus. 22: 47-48, pl.13, figs.3-4.
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© Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Invertebrate Zoology

Source: National Museum of Natural History Collections

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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
This species occurs in shallow reef environments. It is known to what depth this species can occur.

Systems
  • Marine
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Source: IUCN

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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
VU
Vulnerable

Red List Criteria
A4cde

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2008

Assessor/s
Sheppard, A., Fenner, D., Edwards, A., Abrar, M. & Ochavillo, D.

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 also moderately susceptible to disease and harvesting for 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 has a low susceptibility to bleaching, 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 37% 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) is the best inference of population reduction and meets the threshold for Vulnerable under Criterion A4cd. It will be important to reassess this species in 10 years time because of predicted threats from climate change and ocean acidification.
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Population

Population
This species is 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
Unknown
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Threats

Major Threats
Porites species are heavily collected for the aquarium trade. In Indonesia, the catch quota for this genus is 55,500 per year.

The genus is not particularly susceptible to bleaching, but is more prone to disease than many other corals. Coral disease has emerged as a serious threat to coral reefs worldwide and is 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 Great Barrier Reef 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.

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. In addition to global climate change, corals are also threatened by a number of localized threats. 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 this species distribution fall within several Marine Protected Areas within its range.

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., Marine Protected Areas, 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.
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