|Scientific Name:||Montastraea annularis|
|Species Authority:||(Ellis & Solander, 1786)|
|Taxonomic Notes:||M. annularis (Weil and Knowlton 1994) has recently been split into three species including M. faveolata and M. franksi. Consequently, most studies prior to 1994 do not distinguish between the three species, and information on population is difficult to disaggregate for the three taxa.|
|Red List Category & Criteria:||Endangered A2ace 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)|
This species is listed as Endangered as the species is believed to have undergone a decline exceeding 50% over the past 30 years due in particular to the effects of disease and bleaching, as well as other anthropogenic-related factors. Current rates of mortality are exceeding growth and recruitment, and current threats are increasing. Due to their extreme longevity, low rates of recruitment and long generation times, scope for recovery of populations is limited. If current trends continue, this species may warrant listing in a higher category of threat.
|Range Description:||This species occurs in the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, Florida, the Bahamas, and Bermuda.|
Native:Anguilla; Antigua and Barbuda; Bahamas; Barbados; Belize; Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba (Saba, Sint Eustatius); Cayman Islands; Colombia; Costa Rica; Cuba; Curaçao; Dominica; Dominican Republic; Grenada; Guadeloupe; Haiti; Honduras; Jamaica; Mexico; Montserrat; Nicaragua; Panama; Saint Barthélemy; Saint Kitts and Nevis; Saint Lucia; Saint Martin (French part); Saint Vincent and the Grenadines; Sint Maarten (Dutch part); Trinidad and Tobago; Turks and Caicos Islands; United States; United States Minor Outlying Islands; Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of; Virgin Islands, British
|FAO Marine Fishing Areas:||
Atlantic – western central
|Range Map:||Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.|
In the last 20 years, there has been a severe decline in the overall cover and abundance of M. annularis in several parts of the Caribbean. For example, 90% of the cover of the species was lost in the coastal waters off Jamaica from 1980 through 1994 (Hughes 1994). Off the coast of eastern Puerto Rico, declines in cover were recorded at between 40 and 60% (Hernandez-Delgado 2005), at around 40% off south-eastern Puerto Rico (E. Weil pers. comm.), 50% off Mona Island (Bruckner and Bruckner 2006), and 72% in St John, US Virgin Islands, between 1988 and 1999 (Edmunds and Elahi 2007). Dustan and Halas (1987) observed a 31% decline in cover of M. annularis complex on Carysfort Reef (Key Largo) between 1975-1982, with a 21% decline in colony size.
Off the northern coast of Belize, declines upwards of 90% were recorded specifically for M. annularis (Burke et al. 2004).
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 generation length estimates.
|Habitat and Ecology:||This is a common species. M. annularis is found from 0.5-82 m (Reed 1985), and is often the most abundant coral from 1-10 m, especially in semi-protected reef environments; it is frequently a dominant species of lagoons and upper reef slopes.|
The major threats to the species are infectious diseases (white plague, yellow band and black band disease) and bleaching. Other threats include predation by Sparisoma viride (Stoplight Parrotfish), hurricane damage, and loss of habitat at the recruitment stage due to algal overgrowth and sedimentation, as well as localized impacts due to bioerosion by sponges and other organisms, and other diseases.
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). 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 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.
In the US, it is present in many MPAs, including Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, Biscayne N.P., Dry Tortugas National Park, Buck Island Reef National Monument and Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Also present Hol Chan Marine Reserve (Belize), Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park (Bahamas). In US waters, it is illegal to harvest corals for commercial purposes. (Aronson, R., Precht, W., Moore, J., Weil, E., and Bruckner, A. pers. comm.)
All corals are listed on CITES Appendix II.
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.
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Aronson, R.B. and Precht, W.F. 2001b. White-band disease and the changing face of Caribbean coral reefs. Hydrobiologia 460: 25-38.
Bruckner, A.W. and Bruckner, R.J. 2006. Impact of yellow-band disease (YBD) on Montastraea annularis (species complex) populations on remote reefs off Mona Island, Puerto Rico. Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 69: 67-73.
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Burke, C.D., McHenry, T.M., Bischoff, W.D., Huttig, E.S., Yang, W., Thorndyke, L. 2004. Coral mortality, recovery and reef degradation at Mexico Rocks Patch Reef Complex, Northern Belize, Central America: 1995–1997. Hydrobiologia 530/531: 481-487.
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Edmunds, P.J. and Elahi, R. 2007. The demographics of a 15-year decline in cover of the Caribbean reef coral Montastraea annularis. Ecological Monographs 77(1): 3-18.
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Hernández-Delgado, E.A. 2005. Historia natural, caracterización, distribución y estado actual de los arrecifes de coral Puerto Rico. In: R.L. Joglar (ed.), Biodiversidad de Puerto Rico: Vertebrados Terrestres y Ecosistemas, pp. 281-356. Editorial Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña, San Juan, PR.
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Patterson, K.L., Porter, J.W., Ritchie, K.B., Polson, S.W., Mueller E., Peters, E.C., Santavy, D.L., Smith, G.W. 2002. The etiology of white pox, a lethal disease of the Caribbean elkhorn coral, Acropora palmata. Proc Natl Acad Sci 99: 8725-8730.
Porter, J.W., Dustan, P., Jaap, W.C., Patterson, K.L., Kosmynin, V., Meier, O.W., Patterson, M.E., and Parsons, M. 2001. Patterns of spread of coral disease in the Florida Keys. Hydrobiologia 460(1-3): 1-24.
Reed, J.K. 1985. Deepest distribution of Atlantic hermatypic corals discovered in the Bahamas. Fifth International Coral Reef Congress 6: 249-254 pp. Tahiti.
Sutherland, K.P., Porter, J.W., and Torres, C. 2004. Disease and immunity in Caribbean and Indo-Pacific zooxanthellate corals. Marine ecology progress series 266: 273-302.
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Wallace, C.C. 1999. Staghorn Corals of the World: a revision of the coral genus Acropora. CSIRO, Collingwood.
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|Citation:||Aronson, R., Bruckner, A., Moore, J., Precht, B. & E. Weil 2008. Montastraea annularis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 02 August 2015.|