Offshore Onna Village, Okinawa Island, Japan, there is a large and densely covered coral assemblage of free-living mushroom corals (Scleractinia: Fungiidae) on a reef slope at depths from 20 m to 32 m, covering an area of approximately 350 × 40 m2. From previous research, it is known that migration distances of mushroom corals may depend on coral shapes, coral sizes, substrate, and bottom inclination. However, until now there have been no published examples of regular Fungiidae movement and behavior from typhoon-exposed coastlines, such as those in the western Pacific Ocean. Our surveys across three years offshore Onna Village show that mushroom corals always move in down-slope direction from shallow to deeper reef zones. The results indicated that mushroom corals migrated faster in autumn than in other seasons, and that oval-elongate fungiids, and particularly those with a smooth underside, migrated more quickly than species with other shapes. Surprisingly, we observed a negative relationship between the presence of typhoons and migration rates. We also observed active migration by fungiid individuals to escape situations in which they were threatened to become overgrown by Acropora corals, or when they needed to escape from burial underneath coral debris.
The coral reefs at the northernmost tip of Sabah, Borneo will be established under a marine protected area: the Tun Mustapha Park (TMP) by the end of 2015. This area is a passage where the Sulu Sea meets the South China Sea and it is situated at the border of the area of maximum marine biodiversity, the Coral Triangle. The TMP includes fringing and patch reefs established on a relatively shallow sea floor. Surveys were carried out to examine features of the coral reefs in terms of scleractinian species richness, and benthic reef assemblages following the Reef Check substrate categories, with emphasis on hard coral cover. Variation in scleractinian diversity was based on the species composition of coral families Fungiidae (n = 39), Agariciidae (n = 30) and Euphylliidae (n = 15). The number of coral species was highest at reefs with a larger depth gradient i.e. at the periphery of the study area and in the deep South Banggi Channel. Average live hard coral cover across the sites was 49%. Only 7% of the examined reefs had > 75% hard coral cover, while the majority of the reef sites were rated fair (51%) and good (38%). Sites with low coral cover and high rubble fragments are evidence of blast fishing, although the observed damage appeared old. Depth was a dominant factor in influencing the coral species composition and benthic reef communities in the TMP. Besides filling in the information gaps regarding species richness and benthic cover for reef areas that were previously without any data, the results of this study together with information that is already available on the coral reefs of TMP will be used to make informed decisions on zoning plans for conservation priorities in the proposed park.
Layang-Layang is a small island part of an oceanic atoll in the Spratly Islands off Sabah, Malaysia. As the reef coral fauna in this part of the South China Sea is poorly known, a survey was carried out in 2013 to study the species composition of the scleractinian coral families Fungiidae, Agariciidae and Euphylliidae. A total of 56 species was recorded. The addition of three previously reported coral species brings the total to 59, consisting of 32 Fungiidae, 22 Agariciidae, and five Euphylliidae. Of these, 32 species are new records for Layang-Layang, which include five rarely reported species, i.e., the fungiids Lithophyllonranjithi, Podabaciasinai, Sandalolithaboucheti, and the agariciids Leptoseriskalayaanensis and Leptoseristroglodyta. The coral fauna of Layang-Layang is poor compared to other areas in Sabah, which may be related to its recovery from a crown-of-thorns seastar outbreak in 2010, and its low habitat diversity, which is dominated by reef slopes consisting of steep outer walls. Based on integrative molecular and morphological analyses, a Pavona variety with small and extremely thin coralla was revealed as Pavonamaldivensis. Since specimens from Sabah previously identified as Pavonamaldivensis were found to belong to Pavonaexplanulata, the affinities and distinctions of Pavonamaldivensis and Pavonaexplanulata are discussed.
Given predicted increases in urbanization in tropical and subtropical regions, understanding the processes shaping urban coral reefs may be essential for anticipating future conservation challenges. We used a case study approach to identify unifying patterns of urban coral reefs and clarify the effects of urbanization on hard coral assemblages. Data were compiled from 11 cities throughout East and Southeast Asia, with particular focus on Singapore, Jakarta, Hong Kong, and Naha (Okinawa). Our review highlights several key characteristics of urban coral reefs, including "reef compression" (a decline in bathymetric range with increasing turbidity and decreasing water clarity over time and relative to shore), dominance by domed coral growth forms and low reef complexity, variable city-specific inshore-offshore gradients, early declines in coral cover with recent fluctuating periods of acute impacts and rapid recovery, and colonization of urban infrastructure by hard corals. We present hypotheses for urban reef community dynamics and discuss potential of ecological engineering for corals in urban areas.