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Scolymia vitiensis

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CNIDARIA ANTHOZOA SCLERACTINIA MUSSIDAE

Scientific Name: Scolymia vitiensis
Species Authority: Brüggemann 1878

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-01-01
Assessor(s): Turak, E., Sheppard, C. & Wood, E.
Reviewer(s): Livingstone, S., Polidoro, B. & Smith, J. (Global Marine Species Assessment)
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 harvested for the aquarium trade. Specific population trends are unknown but population reduction can be inferred from estimated habitat loss (Wilkinson 2004). It is widespread, found in deep waters to 50m, and rare throughout its range. Therefore, the estimated habitat loss of 21% 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.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: In the Indo-West Pacific, this species is found in the southwest and northern Indian Ocean, the central Indo-Pacific, South-east Asia, Japan and the East China Sea, eastern and northern Australia, the oceanic West Pacific, and the Central Pacific. Madagascar (Fenner pers. comm.) Palau (Randall 1995).
Countries:
Native:
American Samoa (American Samoa); Australia; British Indian Ocean Territory; Cambodia; Cook Islands; Fiji; French Polynesia; India; Indonesia; Japan; Kiribati; Madagascar; Malaysia; Maldives; Marshall Islands; Mauritius; Micronesia, Federated States of ; Nauru; New Caledonia; Niue; Palau; Papua New Guinea; Philippines; Pitcairn; Réunion; Samoa; Seychelles; Singapore; Solomon Islands; Taiwan, Province of China; Thailand; Tokelau; Tonga; Tuvalu; United States Minor Outlying Islands; Vanuatu; Viet Nam; Wallis and Futuna
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Native:
Indian Ocean – eastern; Indian Ocean – western; Pacific – eastern central; Pacific – northwest; Pacific – southwest; Pacific – western central
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: This species is usually uncommon, and it is rare in the south-west Indian Ocean.

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.
For further information about this species, see Corals_SupportingDoc.pdf.
A PDF viewer such as Adobe Reader is required.
Population Trend: Unknown

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: It is found in most reef environments. Sparse colonies of S. vitensis were found from 12-15 m in the South China Sea and Gulf of Siam (Titlyanov and Titlyanova 2002). This species is found to 50 m.

This genus is rounded, disk-like and attached to the substrate by a broad or narrow stem. It is fairly common on deep reefs (Wood 1983).
Systems: Marine

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): This species is targeted for the aquarium trade. Indonesia is the largest exporter with an annual quota of 4,500 live pieces in 2005.

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.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Import of this species to the E.U. countries from Tongo was banned in 2003 under CITES regulations (this negative opinion is reviewed regularly and suspensions can be lifted/implemented in response to new data).

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.

Citation: Turak, E., Sheppard, C. & Wood, E. 2008. Scolymia vitiensis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 20 October 2014.
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