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

Derek Manzello dmanzello at rsmas.miami.edu
Mon May 2 13:14:45 EDT 2011

Hello Doug and coral-list,

Thanks for the helpful information.  However, I found one statement in
your message inaccurate.

The statement I refer to is this: "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."

This is a popular quip among certain reef ecologists that is not
supported by any hard data, other than some very rare and extreme
cases.  I felt it was necessary to respond to this because this
misconception seems to be popping up everywhere and I think we need to
remind ourselves that this was already debated and pretty much resolved
a while back.  In fact, there was an entire session during the 8th
International Coral Reef Symposium entitled "Are calcareous algae
important to reefs today or in the past?"

In the session summary, Steneck and Testa state: "“Calcareous algae have
long been assumed to be important and perhaps even necessary for reef
development. If so, one might expect to find the rates of reef growth
(or accumulation) correlating with the abundance of calcareous algae.
Macintyre (1997) reviewed the association of coralline algae and reef
development by reviewing  non-algal ridge reefs and 5 algal ridge reefs
that have been drilled all over the world. Macintyre made the simple but
profound point that most of the worlds fastest growing coral reefs were
relatively devoid of coralline algae during that period of rapid
.. Coral reefs do not require corallines or any calcareous algae
for their formation. Internal strength of reefs is primarily augmented
by submarine lithification and not by coralline algal cementation as has
often been asserted.”

CCAs are important to reef dynamics for a variety of reasons, but they
do not significantly contribute to the calcium carbonate budget of the
vast majority of coral reefs, nor do they 'cement' reefs, as has been a
popular misconception for years.  For further information on this topic,
I refer the list to the important papers within this session (all freely
available online at reefbase), that are all too often overlooked.  The
specific papers referred to here are referenced below.

With regards,
Derek Manzello

Macintyre IG (1997) Reevaluating the role of crustose coralline algae in
the construction of coral reefs. Proc 8th Int Coral Reef Symp 1:725-730

Steneck RS, Testa V (1997) Are calcareous algae important to reefs today
or in the past? Symposium summary. Proc 8th Int Coral Reef Symp 1:685-688.

On 4/21/2011 4:41 PM, 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
> > 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
> > 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 
> > 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
> > 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
> > 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
> > specific habitats like cavern roofs that are searched less often and 
> > completely than open habitats.  Also, their identification is not a 
> > 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
> > 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
> > 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
> > 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
> > the section called the "Ribbon Reefs."  I'd also remind people of the
> > 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
> > 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
> >     Milliporidae, Stylaseridae) of Belize(Central America) and
> >     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
> > 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
> > Archipelago
> >
> >
> > Between  the periods 2004–2006 and 2007–2009, the rate of mass loss
> > increased from 31 ± 8 Gt yr 1 to 92 ± 12 Gt yr 1 in direct response to
> > 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
> >
> > I am interested in determining the regional species pool for
> > corals within the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System.  Published reports
> > in around 60 species from what I have found but would appreciate any
> > 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
> > _______________________________________________
> > Coral-List mailing list
> > Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> > http://coral.aoml.noaa.gov/mailman/listinfo/coral-list
> > _______________________________________________
> > Coral-List mailing list
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