[Coral-List] Coral species list for Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System

Szmant, Alina szmanta at uncw.edu
Tue Apr 26 10:48:03 EDT 2011

Hi Doug:

Your analysis of the MBRS is accurate from what I've seen, with fringing reefs along the coast from Ambergris N (Mexico), and barrier from there S.  This is using the classic definition of reef morphology that dates way back to 1950s or earlier.  Roatan is definitely fringing along most of the N coast and scattered patch reefs and deeper shelf edge reefs along the S coast, and not continuous geologically with the Belize system.

>From a geological point of view, the use of MBRS is incorrect.  From a societal and connectivity point of view, it is more defensible.


Dr. Alina M. Szmant
Professor of Marine Biology
Coral Reef Research Program, Center for Marine Science
University of North Carolina Wilmington
5600 Marvin K. Moss Lane
Wilmington NC 28409
Tel:  US +1  9109622362  Call ; fax: (910)962-2410;  cell:  US +1  9102003913  Call
From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov [coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml..noaa.gov] On Behalf Of Douglas Fenner [douglasfenner at yahoo.com]
Sent: Monday, April 25, 2011 4:46 PM
To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Coral species list for Mesoamerican Barrier Reef      System

   I was asked if the Bay Islands in Honduras were part of the MesoAmerican reef system.  My thought is that all these reefs are biologically connected to some degree by larval dispersal.  However, surely the reefs of the Bay Islands are fringing reefs around those high islands.  They are not continuous geographically or geologically with the Belize reefs.  Further, I think the Belize reef system is geologically different from the reefs farther north in Mexico, even though they are close to each other and along the same coast.  Correct me if I'm wrong, but the Belize system is a barrier reef with a lagoon 35 miles wide with patch reefs in it.  It is a barrier reef built on a continental shelf, extending far from land.  The Mexican reefs, in contrast, are much closer to shore and I would characterize as fringing, that's what fringing means, right along the shoreline, or close to it.  Again, correct me if I am wrong, but it seems like they are
 geologically different from the Belize reef system.  (There are also 3 continental type atolls in Belize, one in Mexico, and an island in Mexico that is otherwise similar, Cozumel)  They are all a series of reefs in the same area, but there are some real differences between different areas, I think..  We can call them all a reef system if we want, but we shouldn't loose sight of the physical separations and differences.  Perhaps a geologist familiar with the area can enlighten us.   Cheers,  Doug

Douglas Fenner
Coral Reef Monitoring Ecologist
Dept Marine & Wildlife Resources
American Samoa

From: David M. Lawrence <dave at fuzzo.com>
To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
Sent: Monday, April 25, 2011 2:03 AM
Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Coral species list for Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System

As a biogeographer, my reaction to the Winkler paper would prevent this
post from getting past the censors.  I'm also a writer -- I make most of
my living with words -- and this finger-in-the-dyke attempt to hold back
language always amuses me.  It almost always fails.

The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef is sufficiently well described that there
is no confusion over where it lay.  The term is accurate enough, and
frankly it has "priority" over Winkler's attempt to correct
biogeographic usage.

So Doug, feel free to not change your terminology.  Frankly, I recommend
you don't.



On 4/24/2011 8:40 AM, Osmar Luiz wrote:
> Dear Doug, Brittany and all.
> I don't mind at all for those semantic questions, but If you are looking for correcting naming the "Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System" I suggest you to take a look at the follow paper:
> Middle America, Not Mesoamerica, is the Accurate Term for Biogeography
> Author(s): Kevin Winker
> Source: The Condor, 113(1):5-6. 2011.
> Published By: Cooper Ornithological Society
> URL: http://www.bioone.org/doi/full/10.1525/cond.2011.100093
> I can send the PDF if you can't get acces to it.
> Cheers
> Osmar
> -----------
> Osmar J. Luiz, Jr.
> Ph.D. candidate
> Department of Biological Sciences
> Macquarie University
> Sydney, NSW, 2109
> Doctoral Fellow
> Sydney Institute of Marine Science
> Building 22 Chowder Bay Road
> Sydney, NSW
> Australia
> e-mail: osmarluizjr at gmail.com
> phone: +612 9850 8162
> mobile: +61 0420817392
> http://www.bio.mq.edu.au/computational_ecology/people_osmar_luiz.html
> Publications list: http://publicationslist.org/osmar.luiz
> On 22/04/2011, at 6:41 AM, Douglas Fenner wrote:
>>      Almost all reef-building coral species in the Caribbean have ranges
>> throughout the Caribbean, since the Caribbean is a relatively small  body of
>> water (compared to the Indo-Pacific, for instance).  Most all of  the species
>> have already been found in places like Belize, Cozumel,  Akumal, Cancun area,
>> and so on, and some of the others may be there but  just haven't been found
>> there yet.  There are a very few which have not  been found in the NW or W
>> Caribbean at all, and might (might) not be  there (to prove they are not there
>> is like trying to prove the null  hypothesis).  One that is pretty sure not to
>> be there is Millepora  squarrosa.  It is only known from the southeast
>> Caribbean, and reports  elsewhere are likely all errors.  Millepora  complanata
>> can look a bit like it, but if you look in the Humann book  you'll see M..
>> squarrosa is actually quite distinctive and easy to  recognize.  A second
>> species is Leptoseris cailleti, a small deep-water  species that is rarely
>> reported anywhere.  Millepora striata is rarely  reported, but I reported it
>> from Belize, so it is in the MesoAmerican  reef system.  There are a few other
>> rarely reported or less well known  species that may or may not be there, such
>> as Madracis senaria, Madracis  asperula, Madracis carambi and Porites branneri.
>> The situation is  quite different with the azooxanthellate corals.  How many are
>> present  in an area is poorly known, probably because they are small and
>> cryptic,  but they may be patchy as well, since they typically live in very
>> specific habitats like cavern roofs that are searched less often and  less
>> completely than open habitats.  Also, their identification is not a  trivial
>> matter for most  of us reef biologists, most require sending a sample to the one
>> or two  people in the whole world who are experts on their taxonomy (I'm not one
>> of them, Dr. Stephen Cairns at the Smithsonian is one, and can put you in touch
>> with the others).
>>        For the zooxanthellate species, you can find range maps in Veron (2000),
>> but it appears he fills in all the Caribbean for any species found  somewhere in
>> the Caribbean.  He's working on a much more detailed  database called "Coral
>> Geographic."
>>       To my way of thinking Belize has a true barrier reef, but the rest of the
>> MesoAmerican reef system is not a barrier reef as far as I know, but I'm no
>> expert on it.  A barrier reef has to have a significant lagoon between it and
>> land, and my impression is outside Belize, reefs are pretty much fringing.  I've
>> also heard of the Florida Keys reefs referred to as a barrier reef.  I prefer
>> the older name, "Florida Reef Tract" since as far as I know it consists of a
>> series of relatively small reefs with wide gaps between them, and more
>> continuous ridges of hard grounds that are not currently living coral reefs and
>> don't get close to the surface.  Gene Shinn also tells me that the Florida Keys
>> reefs have been called bank reefs.  That said, most reefs are not just coral
>> reefs, they are coralgal reefs or even algal coral reefs, with coralline algae
>> and other calcareous algae contributing as much or more calcium buildup than the
>> corals.  Also, the Great Barrier Reef is not a single reef but a whole series of
>> about two  thousand reefs, with gaps of various sizes (a maze that in effect is
>> a barrier to  navigation unless you have GPS and a very good map system and are
>> a good  navigator).  There is one section that is a nearly continuous barrier,
>> the section called the "Ribbon Reefs."  I'd also remind people of the barrier
>> reef in New Caledonia, which is like Belize and the Ribbon Reefs in the GBR, a
>> nearly continuous barrier with some small gaps.  New Caledonia is said to have
>> the longest continuous barrier reef in the world, and likely that is not widely
>> known.  Anyhow, "MesoAmerican reef system"  sounds fine with me, as does Belize
>> Barrier Reef, but adding barrier to  MesoAmerican does not, nor does it for
>> Florida.  It seems like today  people think the word "barrier" adds charisma, so
>> they want to call  their reef a barrier reef.  Fringing reef ought to also have
>> some  charisma, think of the Ningaloo fringing reef in western Australia,
>> longest fringing reef in the world.  Not nearly as well known as the  GBR, but a
>> huge and amazing reef.  Think of Indonesia, which has more  coral reefs than any
>> other country in the world (slightly more than  Australia), I bet most of their
>> reefs are fringing.  Also among the most  diverse in the world, a true world
>> treasure.  Fringing is good.        Doug
>> Cheers,  Doug
>> Fenner, D. 2001.  Biogeography of three Caribbeancorals (Scleractinia);
>> Tubastraea
>>     coccineainvades the Gulf of Mexico..  Bulletin of Marine Science 69:
>> 1175-1189.
>> Fenner, D.  1999.  New Observations on the Stony Coral Species (Scleractinia,
>>     Milliporidae, Stylaseridae) of Belize(Central America) and Cozumel(Mexico).
>>     Bulletin of Marine Science 64: 143-154.
>> Fenner, D. P. 1993. Some reefs and corals of Roatan (Honduras), Cayman Brac, and
>>     Little Cayman.  Atoll Research Bulletin 388: 1-30.
>> Weerdt, W. H.  de.  1990.  Discontinuous distribution of the tropical west
>> Atlantic  hydrocoral Millepora squarrosa.  Beaufort. 41: 195-203.
>> Douglas Fenner
>> Coral Reef Monitoring Ecologist
>> Dept Marine&  Wildlife Resources
>> American Samoa
>> Mailing address:
>> PO Box 3730
>> Pago Pago, AS 96799
>> USA
>> work phone 684  633 4456
>> Sharply increased mass loss from glaciers and ice caps in the Canadian Arctic
>> Archipelago
>> Between  the periods 2004–2006 and 2007–2009, the rate of mass loss sharply
>> increased from 31 ± 8 Gt yr 1 to 92 ± 12 Gt yr 1 in direct response to  warmer
>> summer temperatures, to which rates of ice loss are highly  sensitive (64 ± 14
>> Gt yr 1 per 1 K increase)..
>> Gardner et al Nature
>> http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature10089.html?WT.ec_id=NATURE-20110421
>> ________________________________
>> From: Brittany Huntington<brittanyhuntington at gmail.com>
>> To: coral-list at coral.aoml..noaa.gov
>> Sent: Thu, April 21, 2011 4:13:17 AM
>> Subject: [Coral-List] Coral species list for Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System
>> I am interested in determining the regional species pool for scleractinian
>> corals within the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System.  Published reports weigh
>> in around 60 species from what I have found but would appreciate any leads
>> to a taxonomic list of coral species observed in the region.
>> Thanks in advance,
>> Brittany Huntington
>> Brittany Huntington
>> Doctoral Candidate
>> Division of Marine Biology and Fisheries
>> Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science
>> University of Miami
>> 4600 Rickenbacker Causeway
>> Miami, FL 33149
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  David M. Lawrence        | Home:  (804) 559-9786
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