[Coral-List] threatened coral Can we tell them apart?

Hughes, Terry terry.hughes at jcu.edu.au
Tue Sep 2 01:47:41 EDT 2014

Hi Steve,

Acropora speciosa, A. retusa and A. globiceps are easily identified, abundant and all have very large geographic ranges (e.g. larger than almost all Atlantic corals, or any endemics in the Red Sea, Japan, Hawaii, and the Eastern Pacific). Their effective population sizes must be in the millions, at least.  

I have no idea why NOAA think these 3 species are more threatened than the vast majority of other corals.

Cheers, Terry

-----Original Message-----
From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov [mailto:coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov] On Behalf Of Steve Palumbi
Sent: Monday, 1 September 2014 7:22 AM
To: Douglas Fenner; Meg Caldwell; Larry.Crowder at stanford.edu Crowder
Cc: coral list
Subject: Re: [Coral-List] threatened coral Can we tell them apart?

Hi all, The NOAA list of threatened corals has a number of Acropora species in the Pacific shared by Guam, Samoa, the Northern Marianas, or the remote Pacific islands: Acropora speciosa, A. retusa, and A. globiceps. How many people in the world can positively identify them? Can we create a way to do this more easily? Are they actually the same species across this vast range? I am wondering if a very specific application of traditional and molecular taxonomy might help.

First, who in the world currently has the expertise and experience to identify these corals? I am asking for people who have, or know who has, to chime in here and I'll construct the list.

Second, can we get these people to locations in Samoa, Guam etc, to collect and positively identify specimens? 

Third, can we use these voucher specimens to define molecular genetic traits across the genome that would distinguish the species from other similar ones? And by comparing vouchers from the same species from different locations could we confirm these vouchers actually belong to the same biological species?

Fourth, would agency biologists in the field find this a useful and positive activity that may help them define their response to the recent listing?

I'm curious about the List's opinions here and if there are additional approaches that might be valuable.

Stephen R. Palumbi
Harold A Miller Director, Hopkins Marine Station Jane and Marshall Steel Professor of Biology Stanford University

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