Acropora spp. - Candidates for Endangered Species List

CORALations corals at
Mon Feb 22 08:58:48 EST 1999

Based on what we know about the interconnectedness of species in such an
ecosystem, how can we still be selecting individual species for protection
and ignoring others...For example..saying Acropora would qualify as
endangered due to declines throughout the Caribbean does not provide
sollutions for impacts to other species of coral that result from this
decline. Could reef scientists  possibly make rational arguments for
considering the entire ecosystem as endangered ...including commercially
valuable fish and shellfish which play a role in nutrient distribution and
recycling etc.? 
It seems that the way these systems have evolved is more complicated than
mere % distributions of individual species and if we are going to spend
time and energy trying to protect them could we possibly shoot for a
legislative solution which effectively recognizes this?   
I have concerns about scientists becoming too conservative in the manner in
which they convey impacts to the reef in an effort to propell small, less
constroversial solutions to society when these solutions may simply not be
effective. Look how we've bungled and continue to bungle marine fishery
legislation in order to propell small paletable bits of legislation often
too little, too late...rarely complied to or enforced.  

"The problems we have today, will not be solved by thinking the way we
thought when we created them"....  Albert Einstein 
> From: Bob Steneck <Steneck at>
> To: Tom Hourigan <Tom.Hourigan at>; Coral List
<coral-list at>
> Subject: Re: Acropora spp. - Candidates for Endangered Species List
> Date: Saturday, February 20, 1999 1:46 PM
> Dear Tom,
>   It seems to me that the Acropora decline throughout the Caribbean may 
> qualify that genus and all of its species to endangered status.  I have 
> seen some recent declines in Porites and to a lesser extent Dichocoenia 
> but some of the other species you have listed I do not think qualify.  
> Most notably is Dendrogyra cylindricus.  While I know of no region or 
> reef in the Caribbean where it has ever been abundant, it is remarkably 
> common.  Most reefs have a little of that species and most areas I've 
> worked throughout the Bahamas, eastern and western Caribbean seem to have

> healthy colonies.  I suspect you do not want a list of corals that happen

> to have always had low abundance.
>   It will be relatively easy to query the Atlantic and Gulf Reefs Rapid 
> Assessment data sets to see if higher than average mortality rates are 
> showing up for the species you list below (see: 
>  In April many of us will be

> assembling in Fort Lauderdale to present data on the condition of 
> Caribbean reefs, perhaps you could get a consensus of opinions at that 
> time (see: 
>   Good luck in your efforts.
>   Bob Steneck
> >We have also examined several other western Atlantic coral species that
> >merit inclusion as Candidate species.  They were not included in the
> >Register Notice since the information available was incomplete.  They 
> >include:
> >
> >Acropora prolifera
> >Dendrogyra cylindricus - pillar coral
> >Dichocoenia stokessi
> >Oculina varicosa
> >
> >Other species, such as the Porites porites complex, P. astreoides, the
> >Montastraea annularis complex, M. cavernosa, Diploria strigosa, D. 
> >clivosa, and
> >D. labyrinthiformis appear to have undergone some declines at certain 
> >sites, but
> >do not appear as threatened as the Acropora spp, at this time.
> ----------------------------
> Robert S. Steneck, Ph.D.
> Professor, School of Marine Sciences
> University of Maine
> Darling Marine Center
> Walpole, ME 04573
> 207 - 563 - 3146 ext. 233
> e-mail: Steneck at Maine.EDU
> The School of Marine Sciences Web site:

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