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Pocillopora eydouxi

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CNIDARIA ANTHOZOA SCLERACTINIA POCILLOPORIDAE

Scientific Name: Pocillopora eydouxi
Species Authority: Milne Edwards and Haime 1860

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2014
Date Assessed: 2008-01-03
Assessor(s): Hoeksema, B.W., Rogers, A. & Quibilan, M.C.
Reviewer(s): Livingstone, S., Polidoro, B. & Smith, J.
Justification:
The most important known threat for this species is extensive reduction of coral reef habitat due to a combination of threats. 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 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 20% 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, this species is susceptible to bleaching and is collected for the aquarium trade, therefore it is listed as Near Threatened. However, because of predicted threats from climate change and ocean acidification it will be important to reassess this species in 10 years or sooner, particularly if the species is also 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 Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, the southwest and northeastern Indian Ocean, the central Indo-Pacific, tropical Australia, southern Japan and the South China Sea, the oceanic West Pacific, the central Pacific, the Hawaiian Islands and Johnston Atoll, the Far Eastern Pacific.

In the Eastern Tropical Pacific region, the species is present in: Mexico: Gulf of California and nearby areas, Nayarit Jalisco, Colima, Guerrero and Oaxaca (Reyes-Bonilla 2003, Reyes-Bonilla et al. 2005); Costa Rica: Santa Elena Peninsula, Islas Murcielago Archipelago, Culebra Bay, Peninsula de Osa, Caño Island, and Cocos Island (Cortés and Guzmán 1998); Panama: Uva Island, Unnamed Island, Canal de Afuera Island, Restinge Island, Montuosa Island, Jicaron Island in the Gulf of Chiriquí, and Iguana Island and Las Perlas Archipelago in the Gulf of Panama (Holst and Guzmán 1993, Maté 2003, Guzmán et al. in prep.); Colombia: Malpelo Island, Gorgona Island, and Ensenada de Utría (Zapata and Vargas-Ángel 2003); Ecuador: Salango Island, Los Frailes, Sucre Island and La Plata Island, and throughout the Galápagos Archipelago (except for Fernandina and the west side of Isabela) (Glynn 2003).
Countries:
Native:
American Samoa (American Samoa); Australia; British Indian Ocean Territory; Cambodia; Chile; Christmas Island; Cocos (Keeling) Islands; Colombia; Comoros; Cook Islands; Costa Rica; Djibouti; Ecuador; Egypt; El Salvador; Eritrea; Fiji; French Polynesia; Guadeloupe; Guam; Honduras; India; Indonesia; Israel; Japan; Jordan; Kenya; Kiribati; Madagascar; Malaysia; Maldives; Marshall Islands; Mauritius; Mayotte; Mexico; Micronesia, Federated States of ; Mozambique; Myanmar; Nauru; New Caledonia; Nicaragua; Niue; Northern Mariana Islands; Palau; Panama; Papua New Guinea; Philippines; Réunion; Samoa; Saudi Arabia; Seychelles; Singapore; Solomon Islands; Somalia; South Africa; Sri Lanka; Sudan; Taiwan, Province of China; Tanzania, United Republic of; Thailand; Tokelau; Tonga; Tuvalu; United States Minor Outlying Islands; Vanuatu; Viet Nam; Wallis and Futuna; Yemen
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Native:
Atlantic – southeast; Indian Ocean – eastern; Indian Ocean – western; Pacific – eastern central; Pacific – northwest; Pacific – southeast; Pacific – southwest; Pacific – western central
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Common throughout the Indo West Pacific.

The relative abundance of Pocillopora eydouxi in the Eastern Tropical Pacific region has been categorized as follows:

Common: Revillagigedo Islands (Reyes-Bonilla 2003), Malpelo (Glynn and Ault 2000) and Gorgona Islands (Zapata and Vargas-Ángel 2003).

Uncommon: Panama, and Colombia (Glynn and Ault 2000).

Rare: Gulf of California and nearby areas, Nayarit, Jalisco, Colima, Guerrero and Oaxaca (Reyes-Bonilla 2003); Costa Rica including Cocos Island, and Ecuador including the Galápagos Islands (Glynn and Ault 2000).

Nevertheless, according to Guzmán (pers. comm.), P. eydouxi is likely to be moderately common in Panama (reported at 24 sites in Las Perlas and 77 sites in Gulf of Chiriqui), Colombia and Costa Rica. In addition, according to Jiménez and Cortés (2003), P. eydouxi can be found in moderate abundance at Culebra Bay, Costa Rica. Likewise, in the Galápagos Islands, this coral is moderately common in the northern Archipelago (Hickman 2005) but uncommon in the central region (Hickman and Chiriboga pers. comm.). In addition, Guzmán et al. (2004) reported P. eydouxi as a very common species at the Coiba Archipelago, Panama.

According to Glynn et al. (1988), pocilloporid coral mortality in the eastern Pacific was high, ranging from 51% at Caño Island to 76-85% in Panama and 97-100% in the Galapagos Islands (Glynn et al. 1988). However, following this high coral mortality, numerous pocilloporid recruits have been observed at some sites in Costa Rica, Panama and the Galapagos Islands (Glynn unpublished data in Glynn et al. 1991). Apparently, Pocillopora eydouxi populations have been recovering in recent years (Guzmán et al. pers. comm.), following the severe coral mortality associated with recent ENSO events (1982-83 and 1997-98) and red tides.

In the Galápagos Islands, pocilloporid communities were well developed off northeastern San Cristobal, Espanola and Floreana Island until the 1980s (Glynn 1994, 2003), but disappeared following the 1982-83 ENSO event, with minimal coral recruitment since (Glynn 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.
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: This species is found on exposed reef fronts and where currents are strong. Pocillopora eydouxi occurs in most reef environments, especially exposed reef fronts and at sits with strong currents; this coral also occurs on coral communities on rocky substrata (Hickman 2005). It has been reported from 2 m to at least 20 m depth, but commonly occurs between 5-10 m (Guzmán et al. pers. comm.). It may form large stands. The maximum size is over 1 m across.

P. eydouxi is capable of building reef frameworks; in Santa Elena, Costa Rica, a 50 m² reef is composed exclusively of P. eydouxi (Cortes and Jimenez 2003). Additionally, at La Azufrada and Playa Blanca in Gorgona Island, Colombia, P. eydouxi forms fringing reef frameworks with large dense colonies (Zapata and Vargas-Ángel 2003). Moreover, according to Guzmán (pers. comm.), at least one reef in Colombia is formed from 100% cover of P. eydouxi.

Amongst the reef building corals in the Eastern Tropical Pacific region, pocilloporid species have the highest growth rates (Guzmán and Cortes 1993). Reported growth rates of Pocillopora eydouxi range between 2.1 and 3.9 cm per year at Bahia Culebra, Costa Rica (Jiménez and Cortés 2003). Guzmán and Cortés (1993) reported growth rates from 3.1 cm per year in Galápagos to 3.32 cm per year in Costa Rica.

Pocilloporid corals, presumably including P. eydouxi, are generally amongst the strongest coral competitors with relatively high rates of calcification (Glynn 2001). However, coral species exhibiting high rates of calcification usually have relatively high mortality rates (Glynn 2000). Pocilloporid corals also usually predominate at shallow depths (1-15 m). Amongst the reef building corals in the Eastern Tropical Pacific region, pocilloporid species have the highest growth rates (Guzmán and Cortes 1993). They are the principal framework builders on Panamanian reefs (Glynn 2001).

Pocillopora species are preyed on by at least nine groups of consumers. These vary in their consumption patterns, but include:

a) Species that bite off colony branch-tips: pufferfishes (Arothron), parrotfishes (Scaridae), filefishes (Monacanthidae) (Glynn 2002).

b) Species that scrape skeletal surface: hermit crabs (Trizopagurus, Aniculus, and Calcinus) (Glynn 2002).

c) Species that remove tissues but leave the skeleton intact: gastropods (Jenneria pustulata and Quoyula sp. (Glynn 2002)), buterflyfishes, angelfishes, damselfish (Stegastes acapulcoensis), and Acanthaster planci (Glynn 2002).

d) Species that abrade tissues and skeleton: Eucidaris galapagensis (Glynn 2001).

Jenneria and Acanthaster can kill whole, relatively large (approx. 30 cm in diameter) colonies of Pocillopora (Glynn 2002). Pocilloporid species can have crab (Trapezia sp.) and alpheid shrimp as mutualistic symbionts that protect the coral from the attack of the crown-of-thorns sea star A. planci (Glynn 2001).
Systems: Marine

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): This species exhibited high bleaching and mortality in the 1998 bleaching event in Palau (Brunno et al. 2001).

Pocilloporid species as well as other major reef building corals within the Eastern Tropical Pacific region (Porites, Pavona, Gardinoseris) catastrophically declined in the Galápagos Archipelago and Cocos Island after 1983. Recovery observed since that time was in large part nullified by the 1997-98 ENSO event (Glynn 2000). According to Glynn et al.(1988), pocilloporid coral mortality in the eastern Pacific was high, ranging from 51% at Caño Island to 76-85% in Panama and 97-100% in the Galápagos Islands (Glynn et al. 1988).

Glynn (1994) suggests that the sea urchin Eucidaris galapagensis (syn. E. thouarsii) provides important biotic control of pocilloporid reef development. This urchin is the most persistent corallivore in the Galapagos Islands, where it is often observed grazing on pocilloporid corals (Glynn 2001).

Overfishing is probably responsible for some ecological imbalance on coral reefs that could prolong recovery from other disturbances (Glynn 2001). Moreover, Edgar et al.(unpublished manuscript) reported that over-exploitation of sea urchin predators (lobsters and fishes), along with ENSO, has a major effect in the condition and distribution of corals in the Galapagos Islands, by increasing the grazer and bioerosion pressure on corals.

Coral mortality associated with phytoplankton blooms has been reported from Caño Island, Costa Rica, and Uva Island, Panama, in 1985; where mortality of pocilloporid species (especially P. capitata and P. elegans) was in the order of 100% and 13% respectively at 3 m depth (Guzmán et al. 1990).

According to Glynn (2001), pocilloporid coral harvesting is an important threat in the Eastern Tropical Pacific region, specially along the continental coast. This activity has virtually eliminated pocilloporid corals from Acapulco (Mexico), Bahia Culebra (Costa Rica), Taboga Island (Panama), and parts of the coast of Ecuador (Glynn 2001). Nevertheless, this activity is now largely excluded from Costa Rica and Panama (Guzmán pers. comm.).

The total number of corals (live and raw) exported for this species in 2005 was 1,498.

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 along the coasts 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 include: a) predation principally by Acanthaster and Jenneria (Glynn 2002, 1994, 2000), and b) harvesting for the curio trade, an activity that has virtually eliminated pocilloporid corals from Acapulco (Mexico), Bahia Culebra (Costa Rica), Taboga Island (Panama), and parts of the coast of Ecuador (Glynn 2001).

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: 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: Hoeksema, B.W., Rogers, A. & Quibilan, M.C. 2014. Pocillopora eydouxi. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 31 July 2014.
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