|Scientific Name:||Agaricia tenuifolia|
|Species Authority:||Dana 1848|
|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 very susceptible to bleaching and disease. Specific population trends are unknown but population reduction can be inferred from estimated habitat loss (Wilkinson 2004). It is restricted to the Caribbean 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 14% 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.
|Range Description:||This species occurs in the Caribbean and the southern Gulf of Mexico.|
Native:Bahamas; Belize; Cayman Islands; Colombia; Costa Rica; Cuba; Dominican Republic; Guadeloupe; Haiti; Honduras; Jamaica; Mexico; Netherlands Antilles; Nicaragua; Panama; Turks and Caicos Islands; United States Minor Outlying Islands; Venezuela
|FAO Marine Fishing Areas:||
Atlantic – western central
|Range Map:||Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.|
This species is common and abundant in southern and western Caribbean localities; it is less abundant in the northern Caribbean.
In some places, this species forms extensive monospecific stands.
In the last decade, populations off Belize, the Bay Islands, Yucatan, Jamaica and Guantanemo Bay have sustained extensive mortality with some recovery reported (Aronson et al. 2000, McField 1999, B. Precht pers. comm.); however, in other places, populations have remained stable, for example in Panama and Venezuela (E. Weil pers. comm., Aronson et al. 2004).
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 fore reef spur and groove zones and on low-energy lagoon reef complexes, from 1-15 m. In high-energy reef environments, it forms box-like networks that are wave resistant (Chornesky 1991, Aronson and Precht 1995) and in low-energy lagoon environments it forms delicate open framework bouquets (Aronson and Precht 1997).
This species has high rates of recruitment, and rapid growth rates, so it has the potential to recover quickly from disturbance.
The major threat to this species is bleaching, causing mass mortality events (Aronson et al. 2000,Kramer and Kramer 2002). Localized mortality events have occurred due to disease (white plague) and hurricane damage; the species is likely to be sensitive to high sedimentation.
Particularly susceptible to bleaching and disease.
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.
There is a need for more quantitative data from other locations on population status, and information on recovery rates in areas that have been highly impacted. (Aronson, R., Precht, W., Moore, J., Weil, E., and Bruckner, A. pers. comm.)
All corals are listed on CITES Appendix II. Parts of the species’ range fall within Marine Protected Areas. Several protected areas offer protection to the species, including Hol Chan Marine Reserve (Belize) and MPAs off the Mexican Yucatan.
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.
|Citation:||Aronson, R., Bruckner, A., Moore, J., Precht, B. & E. Weil 2008. Agaricia tenuifolia. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 19 June 2013.|
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