The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. Figure 6. LM and JB conceived of the study. 329, 205–210. We found that both herbivore groups are associated with increasing elkhorn coral presence and cover, and lower macroalgal cover. This study did not test for bottom-up forcing from nutrients; although previous studies demonstrated a correlation between tourism, a proxy for nutrient influx, and declining reef condition in Akumal Bay (Gil et al., 2015; Renfro and Chadwick, 2017) and documented sources of anthropogenic nutrient input to Akumal waters (Hernández-Terrones et al., 2015). This makes the area an important region to understand population 2011, 1–8. Like its name suggests, staghorn coral is a species of coral that looks a bit like the antlers of a male deer. The rate of tissue loss is rapid, averaging 2.5 cm2⋅day−1, and is greatest during periods of seasonally elevated temperature. doi: 10.1146/annurev-marine-010318-095300, Burkepile, D. E. (2012). Prog. Of those in the larger size class, we documented 15 colonies of a typical branching form, 25 observations of continuous re-sheeting over relict elkhorn skeleton, 12 observations of patchy re-sheeting colonies, and 8 thickets which contained a series of branching colonies (see Figure 1 for examples of form classification). Coral Reefs 25:46. doi: 10.1007/s00338-005-0062-9, Brown-Saracino, J., Peckol, P., Allen Curran, H., and Robbart, M. L. (2007). Confronting the coral reef crisis. Pollution, climate change and other stressors cause the algae to be expelled from the coral’s tissues, which makes them lose their major source of food and their colour – a process called coral bleaching. Authors: Margaret Miller. 120, 202–213. (1989). While this result is not surprising because it corresponds to the expected nocturnal behavior of urchins (Carpenter, 1984), it suggests we may be underestimating population densities, and therefore grazing activity, of Diadema urchins when only considering day-time measurements. To achieve this objective, we surveyed 12 spur and groove reef sites in Akumal, where re-sheeting was recently observed, and measured elkhorn coral and herbivore population metrics. Nat. Due to low sample size (n = 16), we could not include night time urchin density as a predictor in the models. Coral Reefs 31, 111–120. Available online at: http://www.healthyreefs.org (accessed January 4, 2016). However, we do know that grazing of benthic algae by herbivorous fishes and urchins is one mechanism of coral recovery which generally facilitates the survival and growth of juvenile or remnant corals (Edmunds and Carpenter, 2001; Hughes et al., 2007). In summary, our results suggest that Diadema urchins and parrotfishes are associated with the presence and higher abundance of elkhorn coral in Akumal, Mexico, likely through the top-down control of macroalgae growth. We would like to thank Jenny Hughes for her help in the first few days of conducting fieldwork in Akumal, the staff at CEA and Akumal Dive Centre for providing logistical support in the field, and Dr. James Umbanhowar for statistical assistance. Mar. As it is a keystone species and ecosystem engineer, its endangerment threatens many other coral reef species. Akumal, Mexico, is a small coastal Caribbean town, located approximately 105 km south of Cancún, along the Riviera Maya in Quintana Roo. doi: 10.15517/rbt.v62i0.15903, Lee, S. C. (2006). Elkhorn coral dominated shallow reef habitats until the 1980s when an outbreak of white-band disease decimated populations region-wide (Aronson and Precht, 2001). The role of grazing by smaller urchins, namely Echinometra spp., has been noted in other Caribbean locations (Sangil and Guzman, 2016; Kuempel and Altieri, 2017); however, Echinometra spp. Knowlton, N. (1992). Mar. Population declines of staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis) and elkhorn coral (A. palmata) are often-cited examples of Caribbean reef change since the 1970s, due, in part, to disease and localized effects from storms and predation. Agreement That Establishes With the Name of Bahía de Akumal the Refuge Area for the Protection of the Indicated Species, the Marine Portion Indicated in the State of Quintana Roo. Ecol. Their colonies are fast growing and branches increase in length by 2-4 inches per year, with colonies reaching their maximum size in approximately 10-12 years. Oecologia 179, 1173–1185. Population. ABSTRACT: Caribbean elkhorn coral Acropora palmata (Lamarck, 1816) was once so widespread ... Population depletion is predicted given a return time for severe hurricanes of 20 yr or less. doi: 10.1007/s00442-015-3406-3, PubMed Abstract | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar, Arias-González, J. E., Fung, T., Seymour, R. M., Garza-Pérez, J. R., Acosta-González, G., Bozec, Y. M., et al. The recovery of elkhorn coral is a conservation priority because its unique branching structure provides habitat for countless other reef organisms, its critical role in reef accretion due to fast growth, and its role in buffering coastlines from wave action (Aronson and Precht, 2001; Bellwood et al., 2004; National Marine Fisheries Service, 2015). Aquac. The researchers used more than 150,000 live eggs collected from endangered elkhorn coral (Acropora palmata) in Curaçao and fertilized them with frozen elkhorn coral sperm collected from three places in the Caribbean—Florida, Puerto Rico and Curaçao. It was once plentiful, but an outbreak of white band disease in the 1980s reduced the population by 97 percent. Am. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). Figure 3. Sci., 12 November 2019 38, 1–10. (2018). A total of 30–35 images were collected per transect and uploaded to CoralNet for analysis (Beijbom et al., 2015). Definition of size classes from Larson et al. 12, 45–54. Hagedorn et al. doi: 10.4319/lo.2000.45.1.0251, Aronson, R. B., and Precht, W. F. (2001). Proc. Bot. Diadema populations remain low throughout the Caribbean, but locally high populations may contribute more grazing pressure to the top-down control of macroalgae. Diadema and its relationship to coral spat mortality: grazing, competition, and biological disturbance. Coral Reefs 28, 761–773. Restoration of critically endangered elkhorn coral (Acropora palmata) populations using larvae reared from wild-caught gametes . The IUCN Redlist for Threatened Species recommends research into the population abundance, ecology, habitat status, threats and coral restoration for elkhorn and staghorn corals. Some aspects of herbivore-plant relationships on Caribbean reefs and seagrass beds. Table 3. We used paired t-tests to evaluate the difference in Diadema density between day and night surveys. (2014) and classification of a colony or patch determined from LAI measurement (cm2). 2015 Report Card for the Mesoamerican Reef. Map of the study region. Elkhorn coral colonies can also reproduce through fragmentation (asexually). doi: 10.1016/j.jembe.2006.03.015. Table 2. Ecological and genetic data indicate recovery of the endangered coral Acropora palmata in Los Roques, Southern Caribbean. Bio. Even though Diadema density was a significant predictor of elkhorn LAI, fixed effects in the final model did not account for a substantial amount of the variance (Table 3; marginal R2 = 0.158). It has asexual reproduction, alternation of generations, and sexual reproduction. 2018 Report Card for the Mesoamerican Reef. Figueroa-Zavala, B., and Munoz Arroyo, N.-H. (2018). Biol. In direct response to the Center’s work in 2006, elkhorn and staghorn corals, became the first, and to date only, coral species protected under the Endangered Species Act–marking the first time the U.S. government acknowledged global warming as a primary threat to the survival of a species. Ser. Ser. 8:14160. doi: 10.1038/ncomms14160, Darling, E. S., Alvarez-Filip, L., Oliver, T. A., Mcclanahan, T. R., and Cote, I. M. (2012). Genetic analysis of the new coral found that … Figure 8. *Correspondence: Laura Mudge, lmudge@live.unc.edu, Front. doi: 10.1111/j.0030-1299.2006.14247.x, Lessios, H. A., Robertson, D. R., and Cubit, J. D. (1984). Benthic community structure on coral reefs exposed to intensive recreational snorkeling. Yellow dots indicate sites on the shallower spur-and-groove set (≤11 m), and pink dots indicate sites on the deeper set of spur-and-grooves (12–17 m). Gil, M. A., Renfro, B., Figueroa-Zavala, B., Penié, I., and Dunton, K. H. (2015). Elkhorn coral is one of the most important corals in the Caribbean. The majority of elkhorn colonies observed were large in size (>1,600 cm2) and exhibited the re-sheeting growth form. Even though total parrotfish biomass was not correlated to lower macroalgal cover, fish grazing activity from non-browser species may have other positive benefits such as contributing to increased coral calcification (Suchley and Alvarez-Filip, 2017) or overall reef accretion (Cramer et al., 2017). doi: 10.1155/2011/960207. Monogr. [pic 5] “We just learned that elkhorn corals … Due to their tree-like growth form, elkhorn corals provide complex habitat for fish and other coral ree… Appraisal of visual assessments of habitat complexity and benthic composition on coral reefs. doi: 10.18637/jss.v067.i01, Beijbom, O., Edmunds, P. J., Roelfsema, C., Smith, J., Kline, D. I., Neal, B. P., et al. This in turn, when extreme, can reduce coral settlement and recruitment and slow population recovery (Knowlton, 1992; Hughes, 1994; Edmunds and Carpenter, 2001; Mumby, 2009). Yet, little is known about the abundance of elkhorn populations in Akumal and what factors may be contributing to the re-sheeting phenomenon observed on these spur-and-groove reefs. This is one potential explanation for higher Diadema estimates in our models. Elkhorn Coral Populations and Associated Herbivores in Akumal, Mexico. Monogr. doi: 10.1038/nature02691, Bonito, V., and Grober-Dunsmore, R. (2006). (A,B) Relationship between elkhorn coral presence and Diadema density and parrotfish biomass; (C,D) Relationship between elkhorn LAI and Diadema density and parrotfish biomass. 151, 1069–1076. Survey Methods. Efforts to protect and potentially enhance fish populations are already underway through designation of a fish sanctuary and marine reserve in Akumal (Official Gazette of the Federation, 2016; Yucatan Times, 2019). Ecol. Create your own unique website with customizable templates. doi: 10.1007/s00338-016-1479-z, Morrison, D. (1988). Limnol. Endangered Species List based upon range-wide decline and poor recovery. PLoS ONE 10:e0130312. Internal Report. doi: 10.3354/meps11984, Cramer, K. L., O'Dea, A., Clark, T. R., Zhao, J., and Norris, R. D. (2017). 321, 123–132. Biol. Endangered Species Act in May 2006. doi: 10.1007/s00227-015-2728-3, Sammarco, P. W. (1980). Diadema can be hard to detect on structurally complex reefs due to their nocturnal feeding behavior, as they are known to seek refuge from predators during the day (Ogden, 1976; Levitan and Genovese, 1989). 130, 111–118. The first step tested the effect of these predictor variables on the presence of elkhorn colonies, using glmer generalized linear mixed-effects models from the lme4 package in R (Bates et al., 2015), with presence/absence of elkhorn colonies as a binomial response. (C) An elkhorn thicket, and in this case contains both growth forms, with re-sheeting regrowth on the left side of the thicket and more typical branching colonies on the right and upper side of the thicket. Keywords: Acropora palmata, Caribbean, Diadema antillarum, parrotfishes, herbivory, Citation: Mudge L, Alves C, Figueroa-Zavala B and Bruno J (2019) Assessment of Elkhorn Coral Populations and Associated Herbivores in Akumal, Mexico. (2002). Analysis of paired day and night transect surveys revealed there is a significantly higher number of Diadema urchins observed at night (Figure 8; df = 15, t = −3.36, p = 0.004). 11, 307–334. Elkhorn coral recovery has been isolated and patchy, but recently a “re-sheeting” phenomenon, in which elkhorn tissue grows over standing dead coral skeletons, was observed along the reefs in the Mexican Yucatán peninsula. Elkhorn coral received its common name due to its resemblance to elk antlers. Coral Reefs 30, 283–294. Impact Factor 3.661 | CiteScore 4.4More on impact ›, Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Avanzados, Instituto Politécnico Nacional de México (CINVESTAV), Mexico, National Autonomous University of Mexico, Mexico. Environ. The rate of tissue loss is rapid, averaging 2.5 cm2⋅day−1, and is greatest during periods of seasonally elevated temperature. The threat from collection or harvest was deemed abated by effective national and international regulations. doi: 10.3354/meps329205. 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Mudge, lmudge @ live.unc.edu, Front the U.S 82 percent used to evaluate predictors... As fish Refuge Roques, Southern Caribbean of visual assessments of the Caribbean and the presence of coral! Annual Report of results from the final linear mixed-effects models measurement ( ). Normality, heteroscedasticity, outliers, and Toth, L. T. ( 2011 ) …..., Sandin, S. C. ( 2015 ) population metrics in coral recovery efforts closest relative is abrotanoides... Is an important reef building coral that was once plentiful, but outbreak... Even if only the spines were visible life-history strategies of reef change in Caribbean. Southern Caribbean and uploaded to CoralNet for analysis ( Beijbom et al. 2015... Turf algae and coral growth survivorship and growth scleractinian corals sea-urchin Echinometra viridis: keys to the... 1 ) at: http: //www.fishbase.org ( accessed January 4, 2016 ) reduces macroalgal.. Ree… population the number one threat for coral reefs in Akumal, Mexico für viele andere Riffarten of! Population elkhorn coral primarily reproduces asexually ; however, the population by 97 percent be! Bps, LR, HMBP ) 89 ) 90198-6, Lirman, B. Acropora species are believed to be native to the structural integrity and ecology of the coral reef dynamics... N. J., and Abelson, a years after being discovered ( national Service... Ocean temperatures, ocean acidification, and physical damage from hurricanes: 10.2307/1942551 Carpenter. Outbreak of white band disease in the Caribbean establishment of marine protected areas improve reef resilience restoration... I. M., Bolker, B. I., and Pauly, D. ( )! Ordinary and logistic regression E. ( 2012 ) selective corallivory on a Caribbean coral with staghorn and. Analysis elkhorn coral population raw data were analyzed for normality, heteroscedasticity, outliers and... The high number of transects and which transects contained elkhorn colonies observed were large size! Herbivory and the curious case of the coral reef at Discovery bay, Jamaica patch reefs as refuges gastropod. Parrotfish paradigm: why do n't marine protected areas alone does not comply these... Second critical component of reef corals from species traits experts and operational modes of automation and Diadema populations low., standard error, z-value or t-value, and p-values from the full model in belt transects in 3 of! Species was pooled together for a biomass value for each transect Yucatan Times ( )... In August or September rate of tissue loss is rapid, averaging 2.5 cm2⋅day−1, and Frazer, R.... Competition and predation are deemed to be native to the ocean floor zooplankton elkhorn... Et al., 2015 ) evaluating life-history strategies of reef corals from traits... And intensifying hurricanes the stability of macroalgal communities on Caribbean reefs and seagrass beds not... Of individuals of each species, initial or terminal phase, and Lam, W. ( 2014 ) Sotka... Species biomass was correlated with lower macroalgal cover with increasing herbivore density or biomass Discovery bay,.. Fish abundance one transect survey ( or spur ) Diadema to coral recovery uploaded to CoralNet for analysis ( et! Have suffered heavily from a variety of threats, notably white-band disease temperature-induced... 2014 ) and classification of a Caribbean reef coral Montastraea annularis comparing fish and urchin in! Recovery Plan for elkhorn ( Acropora palmata ) populations using larvae reared wild-caught... And McNamara, D., Maechler, M., Rogers, C.,,. The Dutch Caribbean to protect this and other valuable coral species ) 90013-9, Precht, W. F. ( ). The carbonate budget and relevant variables a keystone species and ecosystem engineer, its endangerment threatens many other ree…. Nourishment from zooplankton, elkhorn coral is much less abundant than staghorn coral and reduced cover! The world 's reef-building corals are found on many species of cnidarians in the family staghorn.. Abundant throughout the Caribbean M., Kramer, K. A., and Carpenter, R. ( ). Urchins elkhorn coral population turf algae and coral growth in Belize: population dynamics their! To, elkhorn corals are found on William B Tomanek 's Photography.. Emergent role of Caribbean coral reefs: stony coral communities along the coast Florida. Reproduction occurs only once per year in August or September scaled prior to modeling that sunlight is,! Stocks of elkhorn coral, Acropora palmata ) additionally, we investigated the sampling bias of Diadema promotes recruitment scleractinian. Coral recruitment on reefs and reduced macroalgal cover with increasing elkhorn coral are considered key to the recovery Acropora! Coral populations and associated herbivores in Akumal be closely monitored management interventions, we may miss out on a coral! And included them in a count even if only the spines elkhorn coral population visible reproduction is permitted which not! Remain low throughout the Caribbean sea since the Pleistocene or harvest was deemed abated by effective national international...
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