|Scientific Name:||Porites branneri|
|Species Authority:||Rathbun 1887|
|Taxonomic Notes:||Although this species is commonly considered to occur in the Caribbean (southern Caribbean to Jamaica and the Cayman Islands), it is likely that the form in the Caribbean is a different taxon (Weil 1992).|
|Red List Category & Criteria:||Near Threatened ver 3.1|
|Assessor/s:||Aronson, R., Bruckner, A., Moore, J., Precht, B. & E. Weil|
|Reviewer/s:||Livingstone, S., Polidoro, B. & Smith, J. (Global Marine Species Assessment)|
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 highly susceptible to disease and a number of localized threats given that occurs in very shallow water. Specific population trends are unknown but population reduction can be inferred from estimated habitat loss (Wilkinson 2004). It is widespread in the Caribbean, and although uncommon throughout its range, it can survive in off-reef areas 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 15% 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. If the form in the Caribbean is confirmed to represent a distinct taxon, it may fall into a threatened category and both species will require reassessment.
|Range Description:||This species is found in the southern Caribbean, in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, and on the north coast of South America from Colombia and Venezuela, and in Trinidad and Tobago. It is also known from Brazil, from Ceara to Cabo Frio, and the oceanic Ferbando de Noronha Archipelago, Trindade Island, and Atol das Rocas (Pires et al. 1992, Echeverria et al. 1997).|
Native:Brazil; Cayman Islands; Colombia; Cuba; Grenada; Haiti; Jamaica; Netherlands Antilles; Saint Vincent and the Grenadines; Trinidad and Tobago; Venezuela
|FAO Marine Fishing Areas:||
Atlantic – southwest; Atlantic – western central
|Range Map:||Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.|
This species is uncommon in shallow-water exposed environments.
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.
|Habitat and Ecology:||This species is found in shallow-water (0-3 m) reef and hard-ground environments, channels, and intertidal pools, in areas with good water circulation. It may be common in Acropora palmata thickets in the southern Caribbean.|
Typical threats for shallow-water corals (e.g., pollution, bleaching, sedimentation) may result in localized declines.
However, 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.
Further taxonomic work is needed to clarify the status and distribution of the form in the Caribbean.
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.
|Citation:||Aronson, R., Bruckner, A., Moore, J., Precht, B. & E. Weil 2008. Porites branneri. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 23 May 2013.|
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