Navigation Links
To be or not to be endangered? Listing of rare Hawaiian coral species called into question

Coral reef ecosystems are one of the most diverse habitats on the planet, providing habitat for a wide variety of marine animals. Unfortunately, coral reefs and their associated fish, algae, and invertebrate species are in worldwide decline. In 2009, 83 rare corals were petitioned to be listed under the United States Endangered Species Act. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Marine Fisheries Service is currently reviewing the status of the coral on the petition. If the listing is granted, it will afford higher protection and designate critical habitat for these corals. But are all the 'species' on this list really species?

A challenge to the evaluation is that coral "species" definitions are presently based on the coral skeleton, which can be so variable that it is often difficult to distinguish between groups. All 83 species on the petition can be found in the United States with 9 corals found in Hawai'i. Identifying which of the corals on this list are endemic (unique to each region), rare, or at risk of extinction, may prove difficult because it is not clear which corals interbreed. Scientists at the Hawai'i Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB), an organized research unit in the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa's School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, examined the genetic and structural features of all the Hawaiian species from the common genus Montipora. Of these corals, three are under evaluation for listing under the Endangered Species Act (M. dilatata, M. flabellata, M. patula, more commonly known as Hawaiian Reef Coral, Blue Rice Coral, and Sandpaper Rice Coral). Surprisingly, researchers found that colony shape, color, and growth form can vary wildly, and may be misleading as to their species identity.

The seven Hawaiian coral species were found to belong to one of only four closely related genetic groups. Fine-scale measurements of the surface texture matched these genetic groups. Therefore, according to the genes and surface texture, this study revealed two previously unknown species complexes in Hawai'i; showing that corals previously thought to be very rare may interbreed with more common species. Dr. Zac Forsman at HIMB led the investigation, when asked about the recent discovery, he stated, "The scale of variation that corresponds to the species-level is not well understood in a lot of stony corals; this is a big problem for taxonomy and conservation. We need to determine if these species complexes contain species that are in the early process of forming, or if they just represent variation within a species. Either way, it could change our understanding of coral biodiversity." Co-author Dr. Rob Toonen added "this study builds on previous work by Forsman and colleagues showing that species designations in the coral genus Porites were not well-defined, either. As more studies like this are coming out, we are getting a clear picture that we don't really know which coral species names are valid and which are just different growth forms of common species."


Contact: Carlie Wiener
University of Hawaii at Manoa

Related biology news :

1. Aeterna Zentaris Regains Compliance with Nasdaq Minimum Bid Price Listing Requirement
2. Enlisting a drug discovery technique in the battle against global warming
3. US Forest Service and 2 universities team up to develop new ecosystems for Hawaiian forests
4. Smithsonian scientists help create first frozen repository for Hawaiian coral
5. Creation of the first frozen repository for Hawaiian coral
6. Ancient Hawaiian glaciers reveal clues to global climate impacts
7. Hawaiian submarine canyons are hotspots of biodiversity and biomass for seafloor animal communities
8. The fragility of the worlds coral is revealed through a study of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands
9. New ocean acidification study shows added danger to already struggling coral reefs
10. Coral algae (symbiodinium) discovered in black corals at never seen before depths
11. From bees to coral reefs: How humans impact partnerships in the natural world
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
To be or not to be endangered? Listing of rare Hawaiian coral species called into question
(Date:11/12/2015)... Nov. 11, 2015   Growing need for ... tools has been paving the way for use ... of discrete analytes in clinical, agricultural, environmental, food ... predominantly used in medical applications, however, their adoption ... due to continuous emphasis on improving product quality ...
(Date:11/9/2015)... JOSE, Calif. , Nov. 9, 2015  Synaptics ... human interface solutions, today announced broader entry into the ... vehicle-specific solutions that match the pace of consumer electronics ... and biometric sensors are ideal for the automotive industry ... vehicle. Europe , ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... Oct. 29, 2015 Daon, a global leader ... has released a new version of its IdentityX ... North America have already installed IdentityX ... includes a FIDO UAF certified server component ... to activate FIDO features. These customers include some of ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/26/2015)... England , November 26, 2015 ... innovative medical device company specializing in imaging technologies, announced today ... European Commission as part of the Horizon 2020 European Union ... carry out a large-scale clinical trial in breast cancer. ... (Logo: , --> --> ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... and HOLLISTON, Mass. , ... Inc. (Nasdaq: HART ), a biotechnology company developing ... CEO Jim McGorry will present at the ... 1, 2015 at 2:30 p.m. PT. The presentation will ... for 30 days. Management will also be available at ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... 2015 The Global Genomics ... professional and in-depth study on the current state ... ) , The report ... definitions, classifications, applications and industry chain structure. The ... markets including development trends, competitive landscape analysis, and ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... SAN DIEGO , Nov. 24, 2015 Halozyme Therapeutics, ... Jaffray Healthcare Conference in New York on ... Dr. Helen Torley , president and CEO, will provide a ... New York at 1:00 p.m. ET/10:00 a.m. ... communication and investor relations, will provide a corporate overview. --> ...
Breaking Biology Technology: