[Coral-List] defining "major" reef-building corals or a metric for coastal protection

Iain Macdonald dr_iamacdonald at yahoo.co.uk
Tue May 11 01:56:22 EDT 2004

Dear Shelia and list


Goreau produced some of the first definitions for important framework-building corals for the Caribbean. He identified 7 or 8 species on the north coast of Jamaica that were particularly pertinent to framework growth. I have to write this from memory as my papers are not with me at the moment so I may have a few wrong, if anyone has access to the papers please correct me. These included Acropora palmata, Acropora cervicornis, Siderastrea siderea, Montastraea annularis, Agaricia (I cant remember species but it wasn’t agaricites, possibily undata or lamarcki), Colypophyllia natans and perhaps Diploria strigosa. Of course you can't just define these species as the only ones relevant for the whole Caribbean. 


Vassil Zlatarski at the Cambridge meeting of ISRS in 2002 excellently described a reef constructed mainly of “Oculina spp., Cladocora arbuscula and Porites porites f. divaricata; very delicate A. cervicornis; the strictly endemic Eusmilia fastigiata f. guacanayabensis; and a rare form of the Hydrozoa Millepora alcicornis f. delicatula”

 in Cuba, I don’t know if this has been or is being published outside if the conference handout. 


Montastraea cavernosa along with endemic species are the main reef builders in certain parts of Brazil, numerous papers I cant remember authors. Likewise further north Diploria take over the main reef building role from the Acroporids. I am sure the authors of papers relating to these issues can supply more info. Of course the recent widespread destruction of Acroporids throws in a spanner
.. Also just in case its relevant to your work, don’t discount the potential that crustose coralline algae may have in reef binding/building, although this is quite a debated issue, see Perry (1999) and Rasser and Riegl (2002) for slightly different views.


With respect to you other question “aware of a standard metric for quantifying the ability of a 
reef to provide coastal protection?” you could possibly use the monetary value of the reef, calculated by the cost of replacing the natural protection with man made break waters etc.?? You could do with some more input from other coral-listers on that issue. 


Goreau TF (1959) The ecology of Jamaican reefs. I. Species composition and zonation. Ecology 40:67-90 


Goreau TF, Goreau NI (1973) The ecology of Jamaican coral reefs. II. Geomorphology, zonation, and sedimentary phases. Bull Mar Sci 23:399 464


Perry C.T. (1999). Reef framework preservation in four contrasting modern reef environments, Discovery Bay, Jamaica. Journal of Coastal Research, 15, 796-812.


Rasser, M. & Riegl, B. (2002) Holocene coral reef rubble and its binding agents. Coral Reefs 21(1): 57-72.

Sheila Walsh <s1walsh at ucsd.edu> wrote:Dear coral list members,

Within the hermatypic or reef-building corals, some corals are referred to 
as "major" reef-builders because they are primary contributors to the 
development of the reef-structure. Is anyone aware of a reference that 
explicitely categorizes these corals for the Caribbean?

Or, is anyone aware of a standard metric for quantifying the ability of a 
reef to provide coastal protection?

Sheila Walsh
Sheila Walsh
Scripps Institution of Oceanography
University of California, San Diego
9500 Gilman Dr, Dept. 0208
La Jolla, CA 92093-0208
Office:(858) 534-4897
Cell: (858) 344-7182

"In wildness is the preservation of the world."
-Henry David Thoreau

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