Special Issue "Coral Reef Biodiversity and Conservation"

A special issue of Diversity (ISSN 1424-2818). This special issue belongs to the section "Marine Diversity".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (29 February 2016)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Dr. Zoe Richards

Western Australian Museum, 49 Kew Street, Welshpool, WA 6105, Australia
Website | E-Mail
Interests: stony corals, coral reef diversity, biodiversity conservation, molecular systematics, ecology, biogeography, resilience, threatened species

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Coral reef biodiversity is highly vulnerable to the multiple impacts associated with imposed water quality and climate change. The extent of these impacts are widespread and severe, and in some cases, such as with species extinction, irreversible. While some impacts are merely forecast, others are already happening. However, the magnitude and rate of change on coral reefs, in the past, present or future, is not well known. Even with regard to fundamental reef-building species like hard corals, there is a lot to learn concerning diversity at all scales, from communities to genetics. Couple these knowledge deficits with a lack of current or long-term datasets on species abundance and distribution patterns, coral reef managers are presented with a major challenge when trying to detect and mitigate derogatory changes. Without appropriate empirical baseline data, it is impossible to accurately identify or predict species extinctions, population growth, depletions, range shifts or responses to management efforts. This Special Issue provides an opportunity for collectively celebrating the diversity of life within coral reefs.  The Special Issue also provides a platform for important new ecological and molecular research in the areas of species vulnerability, extinction, and biogeography as well as a space to discuss the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning and new approaches for the optimal monitoring and management of biodiversity.

Dr. Zoe Richards
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

biodiversity distribution and abundance biogeography and phylogeography extinction risk and resilience taxonomy and systematics

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Patterns of Sponge Biodiversity in the Pilbara, Northwestern Australia
Diversity 2016, 8(4), 21; https://doi.org/10.3390/d8040021
Received: 16 August 2016 / Revised: 17 October 2016 / Accepted: 17 October 2016 / Published: 25 October 2016
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (2906 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
This study assessed the biodiversity of sponges within the Integrated Marine and Coastal Regionalisation for Australia (IMCRA) bioregions of the Pilbara using datasets amalgamated from the Western Australian Museum and the Atlas of Living Australia. The Pilbara accounts for a total of 1164 [...] Read more.
This study assessed the biodiversity of sponges within the Integrated Marine and Coastal Regionalisation for Australia (IMCRA) bioregions of the Pilbara using datasets amalgamated from the Western Australian Museum and the Atlas of Living Australia. The Pilbara accounts for a total of 1164 Linnean and morphospecies. A high level of “apparent endemism” was recorded with 78% of species found in only one of six bioregions, with less than 10% confirmed as widely distributed. The Ningaloo, Pilbara Nearshore and Pilbara Offshore bioregions are biodiversity hotspots (>250 species) and are recognised as having the highest conservation value, followed by North West Shelf containing 232 species. Species compositions differed between bioregions, with those that are less spatially separated sharing more species. Notably, the North West Province bioregion (110 species) exhibited the most distinct species composition, highlighting it as a unique habitat within the Pilbara. While sponge biodiversity is apparently high, incomplete sampling effort for the region was identified, with only two sampling events recorded for the Central West Transition bioregion. Furthermore, only 15% of records in the dataset are presently described (Linnean) species, highlighting the continuing need for taxonomic expertise for the conservation and management of marine biodiversity resources. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Coral Reef Biodiversity and Conservation)
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Open AccessArticle
Tropical Range Extension for the Temperate, Endemic South-Eastern Australian Nudibranch Goniobranchus splendidus (Angas, 1864)
Diversity 2016, 8(3), 16; https://doi.org/10.3390/d8030016
Received: 25 April 2016 / Revised: 6 July 2016 / Accepted: 15 July 2016 / Published: 22 July 2016
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (1185 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Correction
Abstract
In contrast to many tropical animals expanding southwards on the Australian coast concomitant with climate change, here we report a temperate endemic newly found in the tropics. Chromodorid nudibranchs are bright, colourful animals that rarely go unnoticed by divers and underwater photographers. The [...] Read more.
In contrast to many tropical animals expanding southwards on the Australian coast concomitant with climate change, here we report a temperate endemic newly found in the tropics. Chromodorid nudibranchs are bright, colourful animals that rarely go unnoticed by divers and underwater photographers. The discovery of a new population, with divergent colouration is therefore significant. DNA sequencing confirms that despite departures from the known phenotypic variation, the specimen represents northern Goniobranchus splendidus and not an unknown close relative. Goniobranchus tinctorius represents the sister taxa to G. splendidus. With regard to secondary defences, the oxygenated terpenes found previously in this specimen are partially unique but also overlap with other G. splendidus from southern Queensland (QLD) and New South Wales (NSW). The tropical specimen from Mackay contains extracapsular yolk like other G. splendidus. This previously unknown tropical population may contribute selectively advantageous genes to cold-water species threatened by climate change. Competitive exclusion may explain why G. splendidus does not strongly overlap with its widespread sister taxon. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Coral Reef Biodiversity and Conservation)
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Open AccessArticle
Prevalence and Incidence of Black Band Disease of Scleractinian Corals in the Kepulauan Seribu Region of Indonesia
Diversity 2016, 8(2), 11; https://doi.org/10.3390/d8020011
Received: 11 January 2016 / Revised: 9 April 2016 / Accepted: 15 April 2016 / Published: 28 April 2016
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (940 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Black band disease (BBD) is the oldest recognised disease associated with scleractinian corals. However, despite this, few BBD surveys have been conducted in the Indonesian archipelago, one of the world’s hot spots for coral diversity. In this study, we show that BBD was [...] Read more.
Black band disease (BBD) is the oldest recognised disease associated with scleractinian corals. However, despite this, few BBD surveys have been conducted in the Indonesian archipelago, one of the world’s hot spots for coral diversity. In this study, we show that BBD was recorded in the reefs of Kepulauan Seribu, Indonesia, at the time of surveying. The disease was found to mainly infect corals of the genus Montipora. In some instances, upwards of 177 colonies (31.64%) were found to be infected at specific sites. Prevalence of the disease ranged from 0.31% to 31.64% of Montipora sp. colonies throughout the archipelago. Although BBD was found at all sites, lower frequencies were associated with sites closest to the mainland (17.99 km), as well as those that were furthest away (63.65 km). Despite there being no linear relationship between distance from major population centers and BBD incidence, high incidences of this disease were associated with sites characterized by higher levels of light intensity. Furthermore, surveys revealed that outbreaks peaked during the transitional period between the dry and rainy seasons. Therefore, we suggest that future surveys for disease prevalence in this region of Indonesia should focus on these transitory periods. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Coral Reef Biodiversity and Conservation)
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Open AccessArticle
Detection of a High-Density Brachiolaria-Stage Larval Population of Crown-of-Thorns Sea Star (Acanthaster planci) in Sekisei Lagoon (Okinawa, Japan)
Diversity 2016, 8(2), 9; https://doi.org/10.3390/d8020009
Received: 24 January 2016 / Revised: 25 March 2016 / Accepted: 28 March 2016 / Published: 31 March 2016
Cited by 12 | PDF Full-text (1918 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Outbreaks of the crown-of-thorns sea star (Acanthaster planci) are likely to be strongly associated with drastic changes in larval survival influenced by food availability. However, no quantitative or qualitative data are available on the distribution of A. planci larvae in the [...] Read more.
Outbreaks of the crown-of-thorns sea star (Acanthaster planci) are likely to be strongly associated with drastic changes in larval survival influenced by food availability. However, no quantitative or qualitative data are available on the distribution of A. planci larvae in the field nor on the environmental factors that influence their survivorship. Here we use a DNA barcoding approach to describe the distribution of A. planci larvae in Sekisei Lagoon, Ryukyu Archipelago, Japan after conducting three days of high-intensity sampling. High densities (53.3 individuals/m3) of A. planci larvae were found outside of Yonara Channel, which is the largest reef channel in this lagoon. Surprisingly, most (94%) of the aggregated larvae were advanced-stage brachiolaria. Considering that it takes several days to develop to this stage, this result demonstrates that A. planci larvae were floating for some time and maintaining a high-density population. However, this dense larval cloud disappeared immediately after a typhoon. No spatial correlation was found between larval density and either nutrient or chlorophyll a concentrations, suggesting that A. planci larvae do not necessarily aggregate in nutrient-rich water. These data suggest that some high-density populations of late developmental stage A. planci larvae were produced under a low phytoplankton concentration and could potentially trigger an adult outbreak. Consequently, our data suggest that adult outbreaks may not necessarily be triggered by food availability alone. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Coral Reef Biodiversity and Conservation)
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Open AccessArticle
Marine Biodiversity in Temperate Western Australia: Multi-Taxon Surveys of Minden and Roe Reefs
Diversity 2016, 8(2), 7; https://doi.org/10.3390/d8020007
Received: 24 December 2015 / Revised: 17 March 2016 / Accepted: 17 March 2016 / Published: 24 March 2016
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (8479 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
A growing body of evidence indicates that temperate marine ecosystems are being tropicalised due to the poleward extension of tropical species. Such climate mediated changes in species distribution patterns have the potential to profoundly alter temperate communities, as this advance can serve to [...] Read more.
A growing body of evidence indicates that temperate marine ecosystems are being tropicalised due to the poleward extension of tropical species. Such climate mediated changes in species distribution patterns have the potential to profoundly alter temperate communities, as this advance can serve to push temperate taxa, many of which are southern Australian endemics, southward. These changes can lead to cascading effects for the biodiversity and function of coastal ecosystems, including contraction of ranges/habitats of sensitive cool water species. Hence there is growing concern for the future of Australia’s temperate marine biodiversity. Here we examine the diversity and abundance of marine flora and fauna at two reefs near Perth’s metropolitan area—Minden Reef and Roe Reef. We report the presence of 427 species of marine flora and fauna from eight taxon groups occurring in the Perth metropolitan area; at least three species of which appear to be new to science. Our data also extends the known range of 15 species, and in numerous instances, thousands of kilometres south from the Kimberley or Pilbara and verifies that tropicalisation of reef communities in the Perth metropolitan area is occurring. We report the presence of 24 species endemic to south-west Australia that may be at risk of range contractions with continued ocean warming. The results of these surveys add to our knowledge of local nearshore marine environments in the Perth metropolitan area and support the growing body of evidence that indicates a diverse and regionally significant marine fauna occurs in temperate Western Australia. Regular, repeated survey work across seasons is important in order to thoroughly document the status of marine biodiversity in this significant transition zone. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Coral Reef Biodiversity and Conservation)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Australian Tropical Marine Micromolluscs: An Overwhelming Bias
Diversity 2016, 8(3), 17; https://doi.org/10.3390/d8030017
Received: 26 April 2016 / Revised: 26 July 2016 / Accepted: 26 July 2016 / Published: 2 August 2016
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (5140 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Assessing the marine biodiversity of the tropics can be overwhelming, especially for the Mollusca, one of the largest marine phyla in the sea. With a diversity that can exceed macrofaunal richness in many groups, the micro/meiofaunal component is one of most overlooked biotas [...] Read more.
Assessing the marine biodiversity of the tropics can be overwhelming, especially for the Mollusca, one of the largest marine phyla in the sea. With a diversity that can exceed macrofaunal richness in many groups, the micro/meiofaunal component is one of most overlooked biotas in surveys due to the time-consuming nature of collecting, sorting, and identifying this assemblage. We review trends in micromollusc research highlighting the Australian perspective that reveals a dwindling taxonomic effort through time and discuss pervasive obstacles of relevance to the taxonomy of micromolluscs globally. Since a high during the 1970s, followed by a smaller peak in 2000, in 2010 we observe a low in micromolluscan collection activity in Australia not seen since the 1930s. Although challenging, considered planning at each step of the species identification pathway can reduce barriers to micromolluscan research (e.g., role of types, dedicated sampling, integration of microscopy and genetic methods). We discuss new initiatives to trial these methods in Western Australia, an understudied region with high biodiversity, and highlight why micromolluscs are worth the effort. A number of important fields that would benefit from increased focus on this group (e.g., ecological gaps) are considered. The methods and strategies for resolving systematic problems in micromolluscan taxonomy are available, only the desire and support to reverse the decline in knowledge remains to be found. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Coral Reef Biodiversity and Conservation)
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Open AccessReview
Recent Advances in Understanding the Effects of Climate Change on Coral Reefs
Diversity 2016, 8(2), 12; https://doi.org/10.3390/d8020012
Received: 16 January 2016 / Revised: 25 April 2016 / Accepted: 11 May 2016 / Published: 18 May 2016
Cited by 26 | PDF Full-text (617 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Climate change is one of the greatest threats to the persistence of coral reefs. Sustained and ongoing increases in ocean temperatures and acidification are altering the structure and function of reefs globally. Here, we summarise recent advances in our understanding of the effects [...] Read more.
Climate change is one of the greatest threats to the persistence of coral reefs. Sustained and ongoing increases in ocean temperatures and acidification are altering the structure and function of reefs globally. Here, we summarise recent advances in our understanding of the effects of climate change on scleractinian corals and reef fish. Although there is considerable among-species variability in responses to increasing temperature and seawater chemistry, changing temperature regimes are likely to have the greatest influence on the structure of coral and fish assemblages, at least over short–medium timeframes. Recent evidence of increases in coral bleaching thresholds, local genetic adaptation and inheritance of heat tolerance suggest that coral populations may have some capacity to respond to warming, although the extent to which these changes can keep pace with changing environmental conditions is unknown. For coral reef fishes, current evidence indicates increasing seawater temperature will be a major determinant of future assemblages, through both habitat degradation and direct effects on physiology and behaviour. The effects of climate change are, however, being compounded by a range of anthropogenic disturbances, which may undermine the capacity of coral reef organisms to acclimate and/or adapt to specific changes in environmental conditions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Coral Reef Biodiversity and Conservation)
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