Special Issue "Tropical Marine Biodiversity"

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 March 2017)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Rupert Ormond

Centre for Marine Biodiversity & Biotechnology, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, EH14 4AS, UK
Website | E-Mail
Interests: coral reefs; reef fish; sharks; reef fisheries; corals; marine conservation; marine protected areas

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Life on our planet originated in the oceans and, as a result, marine habitats display a greater diversity of life forms (i.e., a higher number of phyla) than do those on land. While some terrestrial environments, notably rain forests, may harbour more species than do any in the sea, the number of species present in tropical marine habitats, such as coral reefs, is comparable, and frequently more evident. Further the widespread use of modern genetic techniques is revealing a greater diversity of marine organisms than we previously supposed, with thousands of new species of micro-organism being recognised using genetic techniques, and new species of animals as large as sharks and cetaceans being distinguished from sibling relatives as a result of genetic sequencing.

At the same time, the series of issues concerning biodiversity, specifically marine diversity, first highlighted some thirty years ago remain. How did such an astonishing biodiversity as we see in tropical marine habitats arise? What is the function of this biodiversity, or at least, how does such high biodiversity influence ecosystem function? What is the true value of such marine biodiversity, in environmental economic terms, as a renewable resource, or as a wider social benefit? In addition, to what degree is tropical biodiversity in the oceans as threatened as that on land—how good is the evidence that in our seas also we are witnessing the fourth great extinction? A focus of this forthcoming issue will be consideration of the extent to which, in recent years, the application of new concepts and methods, especially cutting edge genetic techniques, has advanced our knowledge and understanding of these issues.

Prof. Rupert Ormond
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • Marine biodiversity
  • Species diversity
  • Intraspecific diversity
  • Genetic diversity
  • Diversity patterns
  • Diversity threats
  • Diversity conservation
  • Benthic diversity
  • Fish diversity
  • Regional diversity
  • Diversity hotspots
  • Economic valuation
  • Diversity function

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Species Richness and Relative Abundance of Reef-Building Corals in the Indo-West Pacific
Diversity 2017, 9(3), 25; https://doi.org/10.3390/d9030025
Received: 5 May 2017 / Revised: 23 June 2017 / Accepted: 27 June 2017 / Published: 29 June 2017
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (8534 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Scleractinian corals, the main framework builders of coral reefs, are in serious global decline, although there remains significant uncertainty as to the consequences for individual species and particular regions. We assessed coral species richness and ranked relative abundance across 3075 depth-stratified survey sites, [...] Read more.
Scleractinian corals, the main framework builders of coral reefs, are in serious global decline, although there remains significant uncertainty as to the consequences for individual species and particular regions. We assessed coral species richness and ranked relative abundance across 3075 depth-stratified survey sites, each < 0.5 ha in area, using a standardized rapid assessment method, in 31 Indo-West Pacific (IWP) coral ecoregions (ERs), from 1994 to 2016. The ecoregions cover a significant proportion of the ranges of most IWP reef coral species, including main centres of diversity, providing a baseline (albeit a shifted one) of species abundance over a large area of highly endangered reef systems, facilitating study of future change. In all, 672 species were recorded. The richest sites and ERs were all located in the Coral Triangle. Local (site) richness peaked at 224 species in Halmahera ER (IWP mean 71 species Standard Deviation 38 species). Nineteen species occurred in more than half of all sites, all but one occurring in more than 90% of ERs. Representing 13 genera, these widespread species exhibit a broad range of life histories, indicating that no particular strategy, or taxonomic affiliation, conferred particular ecological advantage. For most other species, occurrence and abundance varied markedly among different ERs, some having pronounced “centres of abundance”. Conversely, another 40 species, also with widely divergent life histories, were very rare, occurring in five or fewer sites, 14 species of which are ranked as “Vulnerable” or “Endangered” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. Others may also qualify in these Threatened categories under criteria of small geographic range and population fragmentation, the utility of which is briefly assessed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Tropical Marine Biodiversity)
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Open AccessArticle
The Significance of New Records of Benthic Red Algae (Rhodophyta) for Hainan Island (and China) between 1990 and 2016
Diversity 2017, 9(2), 24; https://doi.org/10.3390/d9020024
Received: 3 March 2017 / Revised: 18 April 2017 / Accepted: 25 May 2017 / Published: 31 May 2017
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (6904 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
We present an annotated list of new finds of red algae from Hainan Island, Southern China, including those found in 1990 and 1992 during the German-Chinese expeditions to Hainan Island and in 2008–2016 by Titlyanova, Titlyanov, and Li. Between 1990 and 1992, a [...] Read more.
We present an annotated list of new finds of red algae from Hainan Island, Southern China, including those found in 1990 and 1992 during the German-Chinese expeditions to Hainan Island and in 2008–2016 by Titlyanova, Titlyanov, and Li. Between 1990 and 1992, a total of 64 taxa of red algae were newly recorded for Hainan Island. Of these 15 species were new records for China. During the period 2008–2016, a further 54 taxa were newly recorded for Hainan Island, of which 20 were new records for China. The full list of new taxa includes taxonomic forms, dates, and locales, together with known biogeographical distributions. During both periods, the apparent enrichment of red algal marine flora has occurred in a similar way—mainly at the expense of epiphytes with filamentous, thin-filamentous, and finely branched forms. We believe that the changes in the flora of Hainan Island have been influenced by both anthropogenic and natural factors including in particular exploitation of herbivores, nutrient pollution, and coral bleaching. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Tropical Marine Biodiversity)
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Open AccessArticle
Species Richness, Taxonomic Distinctness and Environmental Influences on Euphausiid Zoogeography in the Indian Ocean
Diversity 2017, 9(2), 23; https://doi.org/10.3390/d9020023
Received: 29 March 2017 / Revised: 25 May 2017 / Accepted: 27 May 2017 / Published: 31 May 2017
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Abstract
Although two thirds of the world’s euphausiid species occur in the Indian Ocean, environmental factors influencing patterns in their diversity across this atypical ocean basin are poorly known. Distribution data for 56 species of euphausiids were extracted from existing literature and, using a [...] Read more.
Although two thirds of the world’s euphausiid species occur in the Indian Ocean, environmental factors influencing patterns in their diversity across this atypical ocean basin are poorly known. Distribution data for 56 species of euphausiids were extracted from existing literature and, using a geographic information system, spatially-explicit layers of species richness and average taxonomic distinctness (AveTD) were produced for the Indian Ocean. Species richness was high in tropical areas of the southern Indian Ocean (0–20° S), and this high richness extended southwards via the Agulhas and Leeuwin boundary currents. In contrast, the land-locked northern Indian Ocean exhibited lower species richness but higher AveTD, with the presence of the monotypic family Bentheuphausiidae strongly influencing the latter result. Generalised additive modelling incorporating environmental variables averaged over 0–300 m depth indicated that low oxygen concentrations and reduced salinity in the northern Indian Ocean correlated with low species richness. Depth-averaged temperature and surface chlorophyll a concentration were also significant in explaining some of the variation in species richness of euphausiids. Overall, this study has indicated that the patterns in species richness in the Indian Ocean are reflective of its many unusual oceanographic features, and that patterns in AveTD were not particularly informative because of the dominance by the family Euphausiidae. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Tropical Marine Biodiversity)
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Open AccessArticle
Molecular Assisted Identification Reveals Hidden Red Algae Diversity from the Burica Peninsula, Pacific Panama
Diversity 2017, 9(2), 19; https://doi.org/10.3390/d9020019
Received: 31 January 2017 / Revised: 23 March 2017 / Accepted: 8 April 2017 / Published: 14 April 2017
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (37725 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
The marine flora of Panama harbors a rich diversity of green, red and brown algae, and despite chronic understudy, it is reported as the second most diverse marine flora along the Pacific Central American coast, with 174 macroalgal species. Extensive new collections and [...] Read more.
The marine flora of Panama harbors a rich diversity of green, red and brown algae, and despite chronic understudy, it is reported as the second most diverse marine flora along the Pacific Central American coast, with 174 macroalgal species. Extensive new collections and molecular assisted identification (MAI) by an international team of researchers has revealed an even greater diversity for this country. Here, the intertidal and shallow subtidal marine flora of the remote Burica Peninsula is introduced. This area is characterized by an uplifted extensive intertidal flat composed of firm, sedimentary benthos known as mudrock, on which abundant algal communities thrive, even during extended periods of exposure. A collection of nearly 200 brown, green and red macroalgae specimens representing the first marine floristic inventory of this region was made in January 2011, and results of analyses of 45 foliose red algae specimens are presented. DNA sequence data for several loci (rbcL-3P; COI-5P; UPA) have been generated for molecular assisted identification and to guide morphological assessments. Twenty-six species were identified among the specimens including 21 new Pacific Panama records, as well as previously unrealized transisthmian distributions, and two new species, Neorubra parvolacertoides sp. nov. and Grateloupia irregularis sp. nov. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Tropical Marine Biodiversity)
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Review

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Open AccessFeature PaperReview
Some Implications of High Biodiversity for Management of Tropical Marine Ecosystems—An Australian Perspective
Diversity 2018, 10(1), 1; https://doi.org/10.3390/d10010001
Received: 22 August 2017 / Revised: 7 December 2017 / Accepted: 12 December 2017 / Published: 21 December 2017
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (204 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
While high biodiversity has been widely reported from the tropics, we suggest that in reality there is a considerable underestimate of the total biodiversity. We have concentrated on the tropical regions of Australia and the Coral Triangle. The best known groups are the [...] Read more.
While high biodiversity has been widely reported from the tropics, we suggest that in reality there is a considerable underestimate of the total biodiversity. We have concentrated on the tropical regions of Australia and the Coral Triangle. The best known groups are the corals, fish, and commercially important invertebrates. In considering whether this is true, we have concentrated on the diversity of benthic communities and water column communities which are poorly known. Yet at the bottom of the food chain these communities are highly dynamic and susceptible to the anthropogenic changes that are occurring with the rapid development in this highly populated region. Tropical biodiversity is under increasing stress from a synergistic combination of changes in climate, oceanographic regimes, increasing coastal development, overfishing, and poor water quality, resulting in bleaching of corals and loss of habitat and of associated fauna. These changes on reefs have received substantial research attention; in comparison, there is limited data on inter-reefal areas and water column communities and limited understanding of the ecological interconnectivity of all these habitats. While in this region there is growing marine protected area coverage, the major focus is on coral reefs with other habitats based on surrogacy with little if any ground-truthing. Within this region, there is limited capacity or inclination to rectify this lack of knowledge of the structure and ecology of the broader non-commercial benthic and pelagic communities. We suggest this lack of knowledge and limited expertise may be widespread throughout the tropics and compromises our ability to understand and predict the changes that are occurring with increasing anthropogenic impacts on these tropical ecosystems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Tropical Marine Biodiversity)
Open AccessReview
A Unique Coral Community in the Mangroves of Hurricane Hole, St. John, US Virgin Islands
Diversity 2017, 9(3), 29; https://doi.org/10.3390/d9030029
Received: 9 June 2017 / Revised: 25 July 2017 / Accepted: 1 August 2017 / Published: 4 August 2017
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Abstract
Corals do not typically thrive in mangrove environments. However, corals are growing on and near the prop roots of red mangrove trees in Hurricane Hole, an area within the Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument under the protection of the US National Park [...] Read more.
Corals do not typically thrive in mangrove environments. However, corals are growing on and near the prop roots of red mangrove trees in Hurricane Hole, an area within the Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument under the protection of the US National Park Service in St. John, US Virgin Islands. This review summarizes current knowledge of the remarkable biodiversity of this area. Over 30 scleractinian coral species, about the same number as documented to date from nearby coral reefs, grow here. No other mangrove ecosystems in the Caribbean are known to have so many coral species. This area may be a refuge from changing climate, as these corals weathered the severe thermal stress and subsequent disease outbreak that caused major coral loss on the island’s coral reefs in 2005 and 2006. Shading by the red mangrove trees reduces the stress that leads to coral bleaching. Seawater temperatures in these mangroves are more variable than those on the reefs, and some studies have shown that this variability results in corals with a greater resistance to higher temperatures. The diversity of sponges and fish is also high, and a new genus of serpulid worm was recently described. Continuing research may lead to the discovery of more new species. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Tropical Marine Biodiversity)
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