Rhizopsammia wellingtoni

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CNIDARIA ANTHOZOA SCLERACTINIA DENDROPHYLLIIDAE

Scientific Name: Rhizopsammia wellingtoni
Species Authority: Wells, 1982
Common Name/s:
English Wellington's Solitary Coral

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Critically Endangered A2a; B1ab(i)+2ab(i) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2007
Date Assessed: 2007-03-01
Assessor/s: Hickman, C., Edgar, G., & Chiriboga, A.
Reviewer/s: Stuart, S.N. & Carpenter, K.E. (Global Marine Species Assessment Coordinating Team)
Justification:
Prior to 1984, this coral was recorded in 2 to 43 m depth from Caleta Tagus (Isabela), and Gardner Island and Devil's Crown (Floreana) (Glynn and Wellington 1983, Cairns 1991). The species was extremely abundant at Tagus Cove (approx. 13% mean cover of reef surface at 15 m depth). All colonies known prior to the 1982-83 El Niño event have apparently since disappeared, although a few colonies of the species have been detected at two sites - Cousins and Gordons Rocks in the past decade (P. Humann pers. comm. to C.P. Hickman), with these colonies apparently now also lost. Estimated decline since 1982 (generation length is >10 years): >90% (Edgar and Garske 2005). The threat of El Niño has not ceased, hence if it is still extant, there is likely to be continuing decline in the range of this species.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Rhizopsammia wellingtoni is an endemic species from the Galápagos Archipelago, Ecuador; only known from Tagus Cove, Isabela; Cousins, Santiago; Daphne Islet and Gordons Rocks, Santa Cruz; Gardner Islet (near Floreana) and Devil's Crown, Floreana (Well 1983, Cairns 1991, Reyes-Bonilla 2002, Hickman 2005, P. Humann pers. comm. to C.P. Hickman).
Countries:
Possibly extinct:
Ecuador (Galápagos)
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Native:
Pacific – southeast
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Before the 1982-83 ENSO (El Niño) event, Glynn and Wellington (1983) reported R. wellingtoni was most abundant (approx. 13% of mean surface coverage) at 15 m depth at Tagus Cove, Isabela. After the 1982-83 El Niño event most R. wellingtoni colonies were destroyed, except for colonies at Cousins and Gordons Rocks (Hickman 2005). P. Humann (pers. comm. to C.P. Hickman) observed and photographed one colony at Cousins and another one at Gordons Rocks in 1993; and in the late 1990s he took a photograph at the Gordons Rocks' colony. Witman and Smith (2003) reported R. wellingtoni inside their permanent photo quadrats at Gordons Rocks in 1999 and in 2000. Since then, R. wellingtoni has not been observed at Gordons Rocks, Cousins or anywhere else, despite targeted searches.
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: R. wellingtoni occurs on under rock ledges, overhangs and ceilings of caves; at depths of 2 to 45 m (Wells 1983, Cairns 1991, Hickman 2005, P. Humann pers. comm. to C.P. Hickman).
Systems: Marine

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Despite no specific information on the thermal tolerance limits of R. wellingtoni, the dramatic reduction in its distributional range immediately after the 1982-83 El Niño event suggests that this species is particularly sensitive to thermal anomalies.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Inside one protected area in the ETP region: Galápagos Marine Reserve (IUCN category VI); Galápagos Archipelago Particularly Sensitive Area (PSSA); Galápagos Island World Heritage Site (UNESCO N (i)(ii)(iii)(iv), and Galápagos Island Man and Biosphere Reserve (UNESCO). Included with corals in CITES Appendix II.

Bibliography [top]

Cairns, S.D. 1991. A revision of the ahermatypic Scleractinia of the Galápagos and Cocos Islands. Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology 504: 32.

Edgar, G. and Garske, L. 2005. Conservation Outcome Indicators for the Galápagos Marine Reserve. Report to Conservation International. Pto. Ayora, Galápagos.

Glynn, P.W. and Wellington, G.M. 1983. Corals and Coral Reefs of the Galápagos Islands. University of California Press, Berkeley. 297 pp.

Hickman, C. 2005. A Field Guide to Corals of Galápagos. Sugar Spring Press, Lexington, VA. 52 pp.

IUCN. 2007. 2007 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Available at: www.iucnredlist.org. (Accessed: 12th September 2007).

Reyes-Bonilla, H. 2002. Checklist of valid names and synonyms of the stony corals (Anthozoa: Scleractinia) from eastern Pacific. Journal of Natural History 36: 1-13.

Wells, J.W. 1983. Annotated List of the Scleractinian Corals of the Galápagos Islands. In: P.W. Glynn and G.M. Wellington (eds) Corals and Coral Reefs of the Galapagos Islands, pp. 212-295. University of California Press, Berkeley.

Witman, J.D. and Smith, F. 2003. Rapid community change at a tropical upwelling site in the Galápagos Marine Reserve. Biodiversity and Conservation 12: 25-45.

Citation: Hickman, C., Edgar, G., & Chiriboga, A. 2007. Rhizopsammia wellingtoni. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 21 April 2014.
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