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Millepora intricata

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CNIDARIA HYDROZOA MILLEPORINA MILLEPORIDAE

Scientific Name: Millepora intricata
Species Authority: Milne Edwards 1857
Taxonomic Notes: M. xishaensis (Zou 1978) is now considered a junior synonym of this species (Razak and Hoeksema 2003).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-01-01
Assessor(s): Guzmán, H., Edgar, G. & Chiriboga, A.
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. Specific population trends are unknown but population reduction can be inferred from estimated habitat loss (Wilkinson 2004). This species is widespread and common throughout its range, is susceptible to bleaching but quick to recover, 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 19% 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 and this species is Least Concern. 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: This species is widespread in the Indo-Pacific (Cairns et al. 1999). It is found near Madagascar, in South East Asia, the South China Sea, southern Japan, the Great Barrier Reef, and Micronesia. In the Eastern Tropical Pacific region it is only known from the Gulf of Chiriquí, Panamá (Glynn and de Weerdt 1991, Glynn 1997).

Specific records: Indonesia, Vietnam, Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Bismarck Sea - Solomon Islands (DeVantier and Turak pers. comm.).

Randall and Cheng (1984) give the range as Indonesia eastward to the Caroline Islands and Great Barrier Reef to Japan. Razak and Hoeksema (2003) give the range as Indonesia, China, Japan, Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam.
Countries:
Native:
American Samoa (American Samoa); Australia; Cambodia; China; Fiji; India; Indonesia; Japan; Madagascar; Malaysia; Micronesia, Federated States of ; Myanmar; New Caledonia; Palau; Panama; Papua New Guinea; Philippines; Samoa; Singapore; Solomon Islands; Taiwan, Province of China; Thailand; Tonga; Vanuatu; Viet Nam; Wallis and Futuna
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Native:
Indian Ocean – eastern; Indian Ocean – western; Pacific – eastern central; Pacific – northwest; Pacific – western central
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: This species is considered abundant throughout its range.

It is currently considered as widely distributed and abundant in the Gulf of Chiriquí. According to Glynn (1997), the population size of M. intricata was 102-103 colonies at Uva Island and Secas Islands. In the course of the 1982-83 El Niño event, M. intricata was severely bleached from January to March 1983, and by late October 1983 only a 2 cm branch of M. intricata was found on a nearly 6 ha coral reef in Secas Islands (Glynn and de Weerdt 1991). According to Glynn and de Weerdt (1991), M. intricata started to colonize basalt substrata in 1985, and by 1987 recruits were observed on Uva reef. More recently, Glynn and Ault (2000) categorized M. intricata as relatively common compared to other coral and hydrocoral species in the Gulf of Chiriquí, Panama.

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: Stable

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: In the Gulf of Chiriquí, M. intricata has been reported to occur at depths of 3 to 30 m on coral reefs and amongst coral communities (Glynn and de Weerdt 1991). The growth rate of M. intricata is considered rapid with a mean branch extension of 4.6 +- 0.7 mm/month in the Gulf of Chiriquí, Panama (Glynn and de Weerdt 1991).

Millepora species are generally found in inshore areas characterized by turbidity, and exhibit a tolerance for siltation. They often occur in clear offshore sites (Lovell pers. comm.).
Systems: Marine

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): In the course of the 1982-83 El Niño event, M. intricata was severely bleached in Panama from January to March 1983 (Glynn and de Weerdt 1991).However, since then M. intricata has recovered and is now considered widespread and abundant in the Gulf of Chiriquí, Panama.

This genus is generally not found in aquarium trade, but is sometimes collected for curio and jewellery trade. This genus is generally susceptible to bleaching. They are some of the first hard corals to bleach but are resilient, being some of the first to recruit after the bleaching. In Fiji, Millepora is not subject to crown of thorns starfish predation or disease (Lovell pers comm.).

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 disease, and a number of localized threats. The severity of these combined threats to the global population of each individual species is not known.

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.

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.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: These non-scleractinian corals are listed under Appendix I and II of CITES. There are no records in the CITES database of exports of non-scleractinians by weight. Parts of this species distribution fall within several Marine Protected Areas within its range. For example, M. intricata is present in two protected areas in the Eastern Tropical Pacific region in Panama: Coiba National Park and its Special Zone of Marine Protection, World Heritage Site and Golfo de Chiriquí National Park.

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: Guzmán, H., Edgar, G. & Chiriboga, A. 2008. Millepora intricata. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 29 November 2014.
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