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Orange Cup Coral Tubastraea coccinea invades Florida and the Flower Garden Banks, Northwestern Gulf of Mexico

Douglas Fenner ÆKenneth Banks
Orange Cup Coral
Tubastraea coccinea
invades Florida
and the Flower Garden Banks, Northwestern Gulf of Mexico
Received: 13 May 2003 / Accepted: 3 January 2004 / Published online: 16 September 2004
ÓSpringer-Verlag 2004
Keywords Invasion ÆFlorida ÆCurrents ÆTubastraea Æ
Wreck ÆDiadema ÆFlower Garden Banks
The azooxanthellate scleractinian coral Tubastraea coc-
cinea has recently been reported to have invaded the
Gulf of Mexico (Fenner 2001) and Brazil (Castro and
Pires 2001; Ferreira 2003; Figueira de Paula and Creed
2004). It may have been spreading in the Caribbean
since it was reported there by Vaughan and Wells (1943),
based on material from Curac¸ ao and Puerto Rico, and
may even have been introduced into the Caribbean from
the Pacific (Cairns 2000; Humann and DeLoach 2002,
p. 164). No Caribbean fossils of this species are known
(Cairns 1999). Most Caribbean reef building corals
(88%) were described before T. coccinea was reported
from the Caribbean in 1943, with the median date of
description being 116 years earlier. All other genera had
been found in the Caribbean before Tubastraea, the last
having been found 75 years before Tubastraea was
found. The type locality of T. coccinea is Bora Bora,
date 1829. Its range includes most or all of the tropical
Indo-Pacific (Cairns 2000). Alternatively, it may have
come from the Cape Verde Islands or Gulf of Guinea in
the eastern Atlantic, where it is also known (Laborel
1974; Cairns 2000). It has not been reported from
Florida (Wheaton and Jaap 1988; Jaap and Hallock
1990; Cairns 2000; Fenner 2001; Dawson 2002; see also
specieslist.pdf), and in the Gulf of Mexico it has only
been reported from oil platforms (Fenner 2001). It is
reported here for the first time in Florida and the Flower
Garden Banks of the northwestern Gulf of Mexico.
Results and discussion
T. coccinea was first observed on October 20, 2001 by
one of us (KB) on the steel tugboat ‘‘Donal G. McAll-
ister,’’ which was placed as an artificial reef at 21-m
depth about 2.2 km offshore from Hollywood, Florida.
A single orange-red colony, about 6-cm diameter was
observed on April 18, 2002, growing on the outside of
the cabin facing south at 16-m depth. Subsequently,
numerous colonies were discovered on 12 other sites in
southern Florida: nine other ships, one set of oil rig
jackets, a floating dock, and a limestone boulder reef
(Table 1). Many colonies were on the hulls of the ships,
in shaded areas. The coral was abundant on all four
wrecks that were examined for abundance: RSB-1,
Tenneco, Jay Scutti, and Capt. Dan (colonies were not
counted). The only non-shipwreck or dock sighting of
T. coccinea was a single colony on limestone boulders
(Port of Miami Mitigation Reef, Tim Mcintosh, per-
sonal communication). These boulders came from
upland quarries so the coral colony must have recruited
recently. The largest colonies observed on the artificial
reefs were about 6-cm diameter. A colony that was
collected was identified by Steven Cairns as T. coccinea.
The date at which T. coccinea first settled on these
structures has not been determined. Although growth
rates have not been reported in this species, aquarium
observations suggest they may reach a diameter of 5 cm
in about one year, and growth may slow in adults as
energy is put into reproduction with maximum sizes
reached of about 10–15-cm diameter (Julian Sprung and
Daniela Stettler, personal communication). The oil rig
Communicated by: Ecological Editor P. F. Sale
D. Fenner (&)
Australian Institute of Marine Sciences,
Townsville, Queensland, Australia
Tel.: +1-684-6334456
Present address: Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources,
PO Box 3730, Pago Pago, AS 96799, USA
K. Banks
Broward County Dept. of Planning and Environmental Protection,
218 SW 1st Ave, Fort Lauderdale, Fl 33301, USA
Coral Reefs (2004) 23: 505–507
DOI 10.1007/s00338-004-0422-x
jackets were transported to Florida on barges, making
the survival of any T. coccinea previously living on them
unlikely though perhaps not impossible (if parts were
immersed in water in the barge hull). Colonies on the
hulls of ships could have arrived with the ships.
Surprisingly, no colonies have been found on the first
artificial reef, the Mercedes, sunk in March 1985.
T. coccinea was first observed on the wreck of the
Duane off Key Largo by J. Sprung about 1999. Colo-
nies’ Were already numerous on it at that time. Colonies
about 5–10 cm diameter are now common on vertical
surfaces. This 100-m long steel ship’ W’ Which was sunk
in 1987, sits in water about 36-m deep with its top deck
at about 30-m depth. The Florida Keys National Marine
Sanctuary (FKNMS) website page (http://florida-
duane.html), last updated January 1, 2000, lists ‘‘Cup
Coral’’ (T. coccinea) as being on the Duane. The
FKNMS website also reports Cup Coral on another
wreck, the Amesbury (
last updated January 1, 2000). The Amesbury is located
8 km west of Key West in 8 m of water. J. Sprung also
observed one colony of about the same size on the
underside of a floating dock next to the seawall inside
Palm Beach Inlet.
T. coccinea was observed on the East Flower Garden
Bank of the northwestern Gulf of Mexico by H. Ly-
dersen-Bulman on August 28, 2002. A single colony
about 15-cm diameter was photographed at about 26-m
depth. T. coccinea was also observed on natural reef
ledges at about 10-m depth at Fowl Cay Preserve
(26°38.229 N 77°02.310 W) north of Man of War Cay,
Abaco, Bahamas, by KB in August of 2000, and abun-
dant colonies were found in caverns off the north end of
Guana Cay, Abaco (26°42.22 N 77°09.17 W) in 2003.
T. coccinea has now been reported to have invaded
the Gulf of Mexico, Brazil, and Florida. This is consis-
tent with the proposal that it has been expanding its
range in the Caribbean, and was originally introduced
into the Caribbean from the Indo-Pacific (Cairns 2000)
or perhaps the eastern Atlantic. It has been observed on
boat hulls in the Caribbean, where transport on boats
was suggested as a mode of dispersal (Cairns 2000), and
observed on ships in Brazil (Ferreira 2003, Ferreira et al.
2004). The dispersal route into the Gulf of Mexico was
not identified, though most likely it reached airplane
wrecks in the Caribbean by larval dispersal (Fenner
2001). It was first seen in the southeastern Gulf of
Mexico in 1977, western Gulf in 1985, Texas in the
northwestern Gulf in 1991, and Louisiana in the
northern Gulf in 1994, so larvae may have drifted with
currents clockwise along the continental shelf in the Gulf
of Mexico (Fig. 1). The relatively recent invasion of
Florida by T. coccinea could have occurred by transport
on the hulls of one or more of the ship wrecks it now
grows on, or it could have arrived as larvae on currents
from the Gulf of Mexico or Caribbean. The maps of
Roberts (1997) show that larvae could have reached
Florida from western Cuba in 1 month, and from
Cozumel in 2 months. Dispersal to Brazil was by mobile
oil drilling platforms (Castro and Pires 2001; Ferreira
2003; Figueira de Paula and Creed 2004). Mobile plat-
forms could also have contributed to dispersal to the
Gulf of Mexico oil and gas platforms, but that appears
Table 1 Florida Artificial Reefs
with Tubastrea coccinea Name Type Depth Location Date deployed
Donal G McAllister Tug 21 m 26°00.548’ N, 80°05.650’ W 6/23/98
Princess Anne Ship 27 m 26°47.608’ N, 80°00.260’ W 5/23/93
Tenneco Towers Oil rig jackets 32 m 25°58.952’ N, 80°05.100’ W 10/3/85
Tortuga Ship 33 m 25°49.252’ N, 80°05.087’ W 4/95
Rodeo 25 Ship 37 m 26°13.878’ N, 80°03.813’ W 5/12/90
Jay Scutti Tug 20 m 26°09.520’ N, 80°04.760’ W 9/19/86
RSB-1 Ship 35 m 26°13.642’ N, 80°03.896’ W 4/94
Capt. Dan Ship 33 m 26°13.857’ N, 80°03.960’ W 2/20/90
Ancient Mariner Ship 21 m 26°18.117’ N, 80°03.745’ W 6/91
Duane Ship 36 m 24°59.388’ N, 80°22.888’ W 11/28/87
Amesbury Ship 8 m 24°37.391’ N, 81°58.912’ W About 1962
Palm Beach Inlet Floating dock 1 m 26°47.610’ N, 80°02.690’ W NA
Port of Miami
Mitigation Reef
Limestone boulders 11 m 25°44.894’ N, 80°05.683’ W 5/96
Fig. 1 Possible routes of the spread of Tubastraea coccinea in the
Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and Florida. Year of the earliest report
in different areas is shown, along with possible routes of spread,
based on dates and current paths. Small arrows present the
generalized current paths in the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico,
and Florida. Current paths taken from the Ocean Currents web
site (
cs.html), Roberts 1997, and Gittings et al. 1992
less likely in Florida. A second species in the genus,
Tubastraea taguensis , has recently been reported to have
invaded Brazil as well, and is easily distinguished in the
field by its yellow color (Figueira de Paula and Creed
2004). In Brazil, both species of Tubastraea have in-
vaded reefs, while in Florida only T. coccinea has been
found. One colony has now been found on the East
Flower Garden Bank, so it is now invading the Flower
Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, most likely
from nearby oil and gas platforms. Since it has been in
the western and southern Gulf longer than in the
northern Gulf, it is likely that it is already on reefs in the
southern and western Gulf. It has now been found on a
limestone boulder artificial reef in southeast Florida, so
it is likely that it will soon be found on reefs in Florida,
and reach Bermuda. Artificial structures are clearly
preferred habitat, since in each area they are found first
on artificial structures, and are prolific on some artificial
structures in the Caribbean, Gulf, and Florida. There
are no reports yet of the ecological effects of these
The pattern of the spread of T. coccinea in the Wes-
tern Atlantic is very similar to the pattern of spread of
the die-off of the urchin Diadema antillarum in 1983–
1984. The urchin die-off began in Caribbean Panama,
and spread rapidly with the currents to the north and
into the Gulf of Mexico and to Florida. The die-off also
moved eastward from Panama and Florida to the east-
ern Caribbean. Lessios et al. (1984) reported that it was
carried eastward by an eastward-flowing current along
the northern shore of South America. Roberts (1997)
reports that there are weak nearshore counter currents
along most coastlines in the Caribbean. The die-off
spread throughout the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and
to Florida and Bermuda all within 1 year (Lessios et al.
1984; Lessios 1988). In contrast, T. coccinea has required
about 60 years to spread throughout the Caribbean and
Gulf and reach Florida. Presumably this is because the
time between infection of the urchins by the microbe and
the subsequent release of large numbers of new microbes
was probably only a few days (Bauer and Agerfer 1987),
while the time from the settling of T. coccinea larvae
until colonies can release larvae is probably a few years.
Observations in aquaria suggest that larval release
begins at about 18 months age (D. Stettler, personal
communication). If T. coccinea requires about 18
months to begin releasing larvae, and it took 60 times as
long for it to spread across the Western Atlantic as the
urchin die-off, dividing 18 months by 60 might give an
estimate of the time required for the microbe to be re-
leased from infected urchins. The resulting 9 days ap-
pears to at least be the right order of magnitude, which is
consistent with the view that the time to release propa-
gules is a controlling factor in the rate of spread.
Transportation on boat hulls has the potential to have
spread the coral through this area in much less than
60 years, and would likely produce a pattern that would
follow shipping routes instead of current paths. The first
known locations were Puerto Rico and Curacao. Dis-
persal by current from one of these to the other appears
unlikely. However, Puerto Rico was a major coaling
station and shipping port. T. coccinea might have been
brought there first by a ship and carried on to Curac¸ ao
before subsequent dispersal by currents.
Acknowledgements We would like to thank Pamela Fletcher, Keith
Mille, Tim McIntosh, Janet Phipps, Rhett Butler, Julian Sprung,
and Tim Mcintosh for observations of T. coccinea in Florida, and
Emma Hickerson for observations of T. coccinea discovered by
Heidi Lydersen-Bulman on the East Flower Garden Bank. We
thank Rhett Butler for collecting the coral sample, and Daniela
Stettler for aquarium observations.
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... Tubastraea coccinea was first observed in the Gulf of Mexico in 1977, having quickly spread to the states of Louisiana, Texas and Florida in the USA, being found mostly attached to oil platforms. However, it has also been reported in natural substrates on the Flower Garden Banks (Fenner 2001;Fenner and Banks 2004). The large number of oil platforms present in the Gulf of Mexico likely act as steppingstones, facilitating their dispersion (Sammarco et al. 2004;Hickerson et al. 2008;Creed et al. 2017a;Brockinton et al. 2022). ...
... Creed and De Paula 2007;Mangelli and Creed 2012; Mantelatto et al. 2020;Tanasovici et al. 2020), artificial substrata of vectors and shipwrecks(Fenner and Banks 2004;Sammarco et al. 2012; Costa et al. 2014;Rezek et al. 2018;Soares et al. 2020), and angle and rugosity as factors affecting the settlement and survival of Tubastraea spp.(Vermeij 2006;Mizrahi et al. 2014; Miranda et al. 2018a, b; ...
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Invasive species stimulate science through problem-oriented research but only a small portion of studies have discussed the impacts of biological invasions upon the science itself. Three of the ten currently recognized species of the coral genus Tubastraea are invasive and have attracted substantial research attention. Using a bibliographic survey and bibliometric approach we synthesized knowledge to examine if invasion events lead to an increase and intensification of research not mirrored in the native range. More than twice as many studies of the genus were performed in the nonnative ranges than native, most being original research recently published in the conventional literature. Brazil and the United States of America (Gulf of Mexico) (nonnative range) were most studied with oil and gas platforms the main (49%) focus of pathway and vector research. Ecological processes such as recruitment, survivorship, larval settlement, and population abundance and structure, were proportionally more studied in nonnative ranges, as were competitive interactions. This synthesis of the set of knowledge that is available about Tubastraea spp. demonstrates that invasion biology is a highly pragmatic science and as the genus has expanded its range through the world the scientific community has increasingly focused its attention on the invasion which has provided science, management and stakeholders with a wide body of information on many basic and applied aspects of the biology and ecology of the species.
... Some of these compounds were demonstrated as a defense mechanism against competitors (Koh and Sweatman 2000;Lages et al. 2010aLages et al. , 2012, which has helped maintain its great abundance, causing disturbances in native benthic communities (Lages et al. 2011). Tubastrea coccinea is probably the most invasive alien coral reported to date, capable of settling on various substrate types (Fenner 2001;Fenner and Banks 2004;De Paula and Creed 2004;Sammarco et al. 2004;López et al. 2019). Its success is presumably due to its powerful defensive chemical arsenal (Lages et al. 2015). ...
... Tubastrea coccinea is native to shallow waters of the Indo, Western and Central Pacific, with a cryptogenic origin in the Eastern Atlantic, also introduced in the Atlantic Ocean. This species is considered cosmopolitan since it has spread worldwide, from tropical (Fenner 2001;Fenner and Banks 2004) to temperate zones (Cairns and Zibrowius 1997;Paz-García et al. 2007). It has been described as an invasive species in some places (Brito et al. 2017), which includes the Western Atlantic areas (Creed et al. 2017). ...
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Tubastraea coccinea is a coral species originally described for the Pacific Ocean. It is widely distributed throughout the Brazilian coast and in several other Atlantic areas. Its widespread occurrence is presumably facilitated by its production of secondary metabolites with defensive action against predators and competitors. This study evaluated the spatial and temporal variability in the chemical profile of T. coccinea in Arraial do Cabo Bay, Southeastern Brazil, using GC/MS analysis. We also compared the profiles between sites/seasons with non-Metric Multidimensional Scaling (n-MDS) and Principal Component Analysis (PCA). Our results showed that the total metabolite (extract yield) decreased in winter and increased significantly in spring. Sterols and fatty acid esters were the main compounds identified in the four T. coccinea populations. The extracts differed qualitatively and quantitatively between the four T. coccinea populations. Winter samples had the highest lipid contents, although they showed the lowest contents of total metabolites. The highest values of extract yields were obtained for the spring samples, while in fall it did not show significant diferences. The n-MDS and PCA also revealed differences in the chemical profiles between fall, winter, and spring samples. However, the observed chemical variability did not allow a clear distinction between the T. coccinea populations. It did reflect similar environmental conditions at sites close to the ocean and sheltered areas. This invasive coral has already adapted itself to the presumed dynamics of interactions with competitors and consumers.
... Sun corals, Tubastraea coccinea Lesson, 1829, and its congener T. tagusensis Wells, 1982, are invasive species in the Atlantic Basin (e.g. Ferreira 2003, de Paula & Creed 2004, Fenner & Banks 2004, Silva et al. 2011). These azooxanthellate scleractinian corals were first reported in Southeast Brazil in the late 1980s (Castro & Pires 2001) and have expanded to numerous sites along a 3500 km stretch of the Brazilian coastline (Lopes 2009, Silva et al. 2011, de Oliveira Soares et al. 2018, imposing a generalized threat to several native species (Barbosa et al. 2019a, Silva et al. 2019. ...
... In contrast, in this work, we found that species whose dispersion could be facilitated by planktonic larvae dispersal or rafting on eelgrass such as Ciona intestinalis and Ostrea edulis (Havenhand and Svane, 1991), belonging to the nekton, for example, Lutjanus kasmira (Rangarajan, 1971), and species with diverse reproductive strategies as early maturity as Tubastraea coccinea (Fenner and Banks, 2004), exhibit an extensive native M and can access almost to the full range of suitable conditions for them (Saupe et al., 2012). Therefore, should be considered the BAM configuration that could represent the system of the species that the user is interested in before deciding to use the supraspecific modeling. ...
Identifying the areas of the world with suitable environmental conditions for the establishment of invasive species represents a fundamental basis for preventing their impacts. One of the most widely used tools for this is ecological niche modeling. Nonetheless, this approach may underestimate the specie's physiological tolerances (it's potential niche) since wildlife populations of species usually do not occupy their entire environmental tolerance. Recently, it has been suggested that incorporating occurrences of phylogenetically related species improves the prediction of biological invasions. However, the reproducibility of this technique remains unclear. Here, we evaluated the generality of this protocol by assessing whether the construction of modeling units above species level improves the capacity of niche models to predict the distribution of 26 target marine invasive species. For each, we constructed supraspecific modeling units based on published phylogenies by grouping the native occurrence records of each invasive species with the records of its phylogenetically closest relative. We also considered units at species level, including only the presence of records in the native areas of the target species. We generated ecological niche models for each unit with three modeling methods (minimum volume ellipsoids - MVE, machine learning algorithms - Maxent and a presence-absence method - GLM). In addition, we grouped the 26 target species based on whether or not the species are in environmental pseudo-equilibrium (i.e., it occupies all habitats where it can disperse) and have any geographical or biological constraints. Our results suggest that the construction of supraspecific units improves the predictive capacity of correlative models to estimate the invasion area of our target species. This modeling approach consistently generated models with a higher predictive ability for species in non-environmental pseudo-equilibrium and with geographical constraints.
... Sun corals, Tubastraea coccinea Lesson, 1829, and its congener T. tagusensis Wells, 1982, are invasive species in the Atlantic Basin (e.g. Ferreira 2003, de Paula & Creed 2004, Fenner & Banks 2004, Silva et al. 2011). These azooxanthellate scleractinian corals were first reported in Southeast Brazil in the late 1980s (Castro & Pires 2001) and have expanded to numerous sites along a 3500 km stretch of the Brazilian coastline (Lopes 2009, Silva et al. 2011, de Oliveira Soares et al. 2018, imposing a generalized threat to several native species (Barbosa et al. 2019a, Silva et al. 2019. ...
ABSTRACT: Two sun coral species, Tubastraea tagusensis and T. coccinea, have successfully colonized reef habitats along the Southwest Atlantic. However, their invasive biology has been largely addressed without considering species-specific distribution patterns. Here, we assessed the distribution and abundance of Tubastraea spp. at vertical rocky reef sites within a number of islands along 120 km of coastline off the northern coast of São Paulo State, Brazil, to (1) investigate possible mechanisms underlying the invasion dynamics in the region, (2) test species-specific distributions according to a key environmental filter (depth), and (3) examine within-patch patterns to assess whether competition, niche-based or neutral processes are best candidates to modulate local species coexistence. Sun corals were found in the great majority of the studied locations, and the probability of finding them at any given reef site was estimated to be 0.54. There was substantial species segregation across locations, consistent with primary priority effects. Within locations, results suggest environmental filtering, with T. coccinea apparently advantaged in more hydrodynamic environments just below the surf zone. At sun coral patches with extensive co-occurrence of T. tagusensis and T. coccinea, the presence of each species can be, remarkably, modeled as an independent event, suggesting neutral coexistence. The spread of sun corals is an ongoing and increasingly invasive process that may be explained by the enemy-release hypothesis and the lack of negative interactions between Tubastraea species. The stochastic nature of small-scale distributions sets an additional challenge to predict (and thus control) sun coral invasion.
... The dominant coral on the platform, Tubastraea sp., is rare but present on the natural reef (ONMS 2008). Tubastraea coccinea is an ahermatypic cup coral native to the Indo-Pacific but is known to be exotic in the Gulf of Mexico (Fenner and Banks 2004;Precht et al. 2014). Two additional Tubastrea species have more recently been reported in the Gulf of Mexico (Sammarco et al. 2014b;Figueroa et al. 2019), but species identification is difficult from pictures alone. ...
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High Island A-389-A (HI-A-389-A) is a gas platform situated in 125 m water within Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico, and provides habitat to a diverse array of benthic organisms and fish species. Platform production ceased in 2012, beginning the decommissioning process for structural removal. Rather than complete removal of the structure, the lower portion was left intact as an artificial reef and the upper 21 m was removed. The biological communities (benthic and fish) were characterized during diver and remotely operated vehicle surveys, both before and after removal of the upper structure. The platform’s benthic community, primarily categorized as fouling organisms, was mainly composed of sponges, hydroids, macroalgae, bivalves, zoanthids, and stony corals. The dominant stony coral was orange cup coral (Tubastraea sp.), an exotic species, while native coral species were rare. Fish species were predominantly demersal planktivores. Analyses of the benthic and fish communities documented four distinct biological zones strongly associated with depth. Significant differences in the benthic community were observed after partial removal and varied with depth, including the loss of hydroids, increase in macroalgae cover, and sponge and coral community changes. Both demersal and pelagic fish communities exhibited significant differences by depth after removal but no significant changes were observed in federally managed species. Results reflect changes in benthic and fish communities after partial removal of the platform that is likely, in part, influenced by structure removal and temporal variations.
... The scleractinian cup orange coral T. coccinea Lesson, 1829 is a native species from the Pacific Ocean (Cairns, 2000). However, this azooxanthellate coral has been considered a cosmopolitan species due to its worldwide introduction through biofouling on oil rigs and ship hulls (Fenner and Banks 2004). This coral species is a major invasive species along the Brazilian coast (Creed et al., 2021), having been identified as one of the priority invasive species targeted by National Plans for Prevention, Control, and Monitoring (MMA, 2018). ...
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Non-toxic defence against marine biofouling species including invasive species is urgently required. The effect of a synthetic natural compound “1-hydroxy-2-O-acyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine” was tested against larvae of the invasive orange cup coral T. coccinea Lesson, 1829. The larvae were placed in 24-well microtiter plates immediately after their release and subjected to the compound at concentrations of 0.5, 5, 10, 50, and 100 μg mL-1 and three treatments (copper sulfate, solvents, and seawater). Larval mortality ranged from 35% (100 μg mL-1) to 3% (5 μg mL-1), and their average of lethal concentration (LC50) was 142.2 μg mL-1. The results of this study show that compound is a potential option to be applied in the management and control of T. coccinea on artificial structures.
... It is commonly known as orange cup coral or sun coral [8][9][10]. Tubastraea coccinea, whose occurrence in its nonnative range is mainly associated with artificial structures such as oil/gas platforms and shipwrecks, is considered a major threat to marine biodiversity [6,[11][12][13]. A recently developed species distribution model identified important determinants of T. coccinea invasion in the northern GoM and projected its potential range expansion [14]. ...
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Tubastraea coccinea is an invasive coral that has had ecological, economic, and social impacts in the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico (GoM). Tubastraea coccinea is considered a major threat to marine biodiversity, whose occurrence in its non-native range has been associated with artificial structures such as oil/gas platforms and shipwrecks. A recent species distribution model identified important determinants of T. coccinea invasion in the northern GoM and projected its potential range expansion. However, the potential effects of anthropogenic factors were not considered. We used boosted regression trees to develop a species distribution model investigating the importance of oil/gas platforms and shipping fairways as determinants of T. coccinea invasion in the northern GoM. Our results indicate that maximum salinity, distance to platform, minimum nitrate, and mean pH were the first to fourth most influential variables, contributing 31.9%, 23.5%, 22.8%, and 21.8%, respectively, to the model. These findings highlight the importance of considering the effects of anthropogenic factors such as oil/gas platforms as potential determinants of range expansion by invasive corals. Such consideration is imperative when installing new platforms and when decommissioning retired platforms.
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Los ecosistemas marinos y costeros del Caribe garantizan la mayor parte de las actividades socioeconómicas que sostienen a más de 43 millones de personas. Esta región es altamente vulnerable a los impactos potenciales del cambio climático, principalmente los producidos por el incremento del nivel del mar y los efectos de eventos meteorológicos extremos como huracanes, fuertes lluvias o sequías intensas, y se encuentra también afectada por los cambios de hábitat, invasiones biológicas, sobreexplotación de los recursos marinos y costeros y la contaminación, que son presiones que ejerce el desarrollo descontrolado en las zonas marinas y costeras, cuyos efectos continuarán amplificándose por los impactos del cambio climático en la región. Para evitar la magnificación de los impactos asociados al cambio climático sobre los ecosistemas marinos y costeros y por tanto sobre el beneficio que recibe la sociedad caribeña de los servicios ecosistémicos que estos proveen, resulta imprescindible disminuir las presiones que el hombre ejerce sobre los ecosistemas fomentando para ello su resiliencia. La integración en planes de adaptación de las estrategias de conservación, rehabilitación ecológica y gestión sostenible a nivel local, nacional y regional deberá promoverse destacando el papel de los ecosistemas para la adaptación y mitigación al cambio climático, encaminando en una sola vía los vínculos entre diversidad biológica, cambio climático, reducción de desastres y desarrollo sostenible, lo que ha sido ampliamente reconocido como una necesidad a nivel mundial. La Adaptación basada en Ecosistemas (AbE) es una propuesta para construir resiliencia y reducir la vulnerabilidad de las comunidades al cambio climático, integrando justamente el uso sostenible de la biodiversidad y de los servicios ecosistémicos en una estrategia para ayudar a las personas a adaptarse al cambio climático considerando como puntos de partida tanto el conocimiento científico como el conocimiento comunitario local. La AbE propone que los ecosistemas pueden ser manejados para limitar los impactos del cambio implementando enfoques basados en el ecosistema para la adaptación que incluyan la gestión sostenible, la conservación y la rehabilitación de ecosistemas teniendo en cuenta los múltiples beneficios sociales, económicos y culturales para la sociedad. Para la implementación de la AbE en el Caribe resulta esencial prestar atención a temas como el incremento de la resiliencia a partir de la rehabilitación ecológica de arrecifes coralinos, manglares y playas, entre otros ecosistemas relevantes en esta región por su función como protectores de la costa, de la degradación de los suelos agrícolas y de la calidad del agua por la intrusión salina; al estudio, control y manejo de las invasiones biológicas y de nuevas y crecientes amenazas a estos ecosistemas posiblemente asociadas al cambio climático como las arribazones de sargazos a las costas caribeñas; y a la definición de mejoras en las herramientas esenciales para el manejo y gestión de la zona marina y costera como el planeamiento espacial marino, la elaboración de estrategias locales de adaptación, la evaluación de la vulnerabilidad ecológica y la evaluación de la salud de los ecosistemas, compartiendo experiencias a través de redes de intercambio como las redes CYTED. La profundización en estos temas contribuirá a la implementación de la AbE con una mirada hacia la naturaleza incluyendo al hombre, como una especie componente esencial del ecosistema, capaz de revertir la situación ambiental actual promoviendo la integración de voluntades, como una alternativa de convivencia entre el cambio climático y el bienestar socioeconómico para el desarrollo sostenible en la región caribeña
Les travaux menés dans cette thèse explorent les différents apports possibles des inventaires taxonomiques d’invertébrés macroscopiques marins, qu’ils s’intéressent à un groupe taxonomique particulier ou à la biodiversité d’espèces dans un habitat, afin d’apporter de la connaissance mais aussi pour répondre à des problématiques de gestion telles que : Quelle espèce protéger ? Quel habitat protéger ? Quelle espèce exotique envahissante éradiquer ?Le premier axe de ces travaux s’intéresse à l’inventaire d’espèces par groupe taxonomique et à l’inventaire multitaxon pour une zone afin d’en évaluer la biodiversité. Dans une première partie, deux des inventaires taxonomiques sont centrés sur des groupes taxonomiques, ils sont réalisés en collaboration avec des spécialistes, ils concernent : l’inventaire taxonomique des hydraires et celui des gorgones. La seconde partie utilise des inventaires simplifiés, s’intéressant à la majorité des taxons, mais centré sur des zones spécifiques afin d’en évaluer la biodiversité : Une étude concerne les parties marines qui sont à proximité des mangroves, et la seconde étude à la caye Grande Sèche au cœur la baie de Fort-de-France. Dans une troisième partie, les inventaires de la biodiversité d’espèces sont mis à profit pour mettre à jour la typologie des habitats marins benthiques, à partir de données collectées lors de l’expédition Madibenthos (MNHN) et notamment de photographies prises par les participants. Et enfin, dans une dernière partie les inventaires multitaxons réalisés à l’échelle de la Martinique sont mis à profit pour évaluer quelles sont les espèces d’invertébrés rares en Martinique qui peuvent être candidate à une protection ou au statut d’espèce déterminante pour l’établissement de ZNIEFF.Le second axe de ces travaux s’intéresse à l’inventaire d’espèces protégées d’invertébrés macroscopiques, notamment les coraux, dont l’état des populations est préoccupant, ceci en vue de cartographier leur répartition et d’évaluer des sources des pressions et menaces constatées. Dans un premier temps, il est indiqué la mise au point d’une méthode qui a permis de cartographier une espèce de corail protégée de petite taille, Oculina diffusa. L’étude montre que l’habitat de cette espèce est très spécifique et qu’elle subit de nombreuses pressions. Dans un second temps, une méthode utilisant différentes techniques de télédétection et d’inventaire in situ a été mise au point pour cartographier la répartition d’espèces de coraux de grande taille (Orbicella favelolata, O. annularis, O. franksii) sur une caye. Enfin, dans un troisième temps, les résultats d’inventaires multitaxon ont permis de caractériser la rareté ou la faible abondance de certaines espèces de coraux en Martinique, résultats qui ont œuvré pour la protection des coraux.Le troisième axe s’intéresse à l’inventaire des espèces non-indigènes et d’espèces exotiques envahissantes d’invertébrés macroscopiques en vue de cartographier leur répartition et d’évaluer leurs impacts sur les espèces autochtones et leurs habitats. L’étude présente trois espèces non indigènes dont le statut est attesté pour certaines en tant qu’espèce exotique envahissante ou est en cours d’évaluation pour d’autre. La première espèce présentée, étudiée en 2015, est un crabe invasif Charybdis hellerii. L’étude de cette espèce a permis de signaler sa présence pour la première fois dans les Petites Antilles. L’étude biométrique des populations et du sex-ratio, a permis de caractériser la population. Une étude de l’habitat occupé permet de mieux étudier son impact et mieux cibler les habitats à surveiller. La seconde espèce est une d’ophiure non-indigène, Ophiothela mirabilis, étudiée en 2017 sur la côte atlantique de la Martinique.
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Diadema antillarum is a large, mobile sea urchin which until 1983 was ubiquitous on Caribbean coral reefs, seagrass beds, mangrove roots and sand habitats. In January 1983, specimens at Punta Galeta, Panama, began to show symptoms of ill health; over the next 13 months similar symptoms and massive deaths were found in many other parts of the species' range. The mortality front advanced E to Tobago, taking c1 yr to cover 2000 km. At the same time, mass mortality was spreading at a faster rate W to Costa Rica and N to the Cayman Islands, Belize, Mexico and Jamaica. Mortality advanced into the Gulf of Mexico, reaching the Flower Garden Banks off Texas before August 1984. It moved to Florida, and thence to Bermuda. A minimum of 93% (mean 98%) of Diadema at each location perished. Although a waterborne, host-specific pathogen is implication, its nature remains unknown. Subsequent recruitment and population recovery is traced, and effects on genetic structure and community structure are examined. -P.J.Jarvis
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Although scleractinian corals have been described for the Brazilian coast and despite the fact that the genus Tubastraea Lesson 1829 (Scleractinia: Dendrophylliidae) is a very common ahermatypic azooxanthellate coral with a wide geographical distribution in the world, it has not, until recently, been reported from Brazil. Therefore, this coral is interpreted as a non-indigenous genus to the south Atlantic, probably arriving in Brazil in the late 1980s. The present study re-describes and compares two species of the genus, Tubastraea coccinea Lesson, 1829 and Tubastraea tagusensis Wells, 1982 from the rocky shores of Ilha Grande Bay, Angra dos Reis, Brazil. These corals are found on protected, shallow-water rocky shores. Of the six species of genus Tubastraea that are known, T. coccinea is the most common species in tropical regions, while T. tagusensis was previously known only from the Galápagos archipelago. Ilha Grande Bay is a site with shipping traffic (ships and oil platforms), which probably brought these corals to the region. Results of this study expand the reported distribution of this genus in the world.
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Tubastraea coccinea and Mycetophyllia reesi were found to have ranges that extend throughout the Caribbean, as do most zooxanthellate scleractinian corals found there. Leptoseris cailleti has not yet been found in some areas, but is a rarely reported coral. T. coccinea has not previously been reported from the Gulf of Mexico, but is now known from seven oil platforms in the northern Gulf of Mexico off the Texas coast, first being sighted in 1991. It has also been seen on four oil platforms in Louisiana, and it is known from oil platforms in the Southern Gulf of Mexico off Campeche and the western Gulf of Mexico off of Tuxpan, Mexico where it was first seen about 1977. Since it is not known from the Gulf of Mexico other than on oil platforms, this represents a rapid range expansion following oil platform placements. The range expansion into the Gulf of Mexico is likely due to a preference of this species for artificial substrates, which may be rapidly colonized.
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Mass spawning of three coral species that broadcast eggs and sperm into the water column (Diploria strigosa, Montastrea annularis, M. cavernosa) was observed on 1 September 1991. Peak activity occurred after 2115, eight evenings following the August full moon. Minor spawning activity was noted on two occasions just prior to sunset, and on the day following mass spawning, as well as seven days following the July full moon. The Flower Garden Banks harbor fully functional coral communities capable of self-seeding following disturbance and of supplying viable larvae for colonization of natural and artificial substrates. -from Authors
This revision is the result of a study of the genotype species, mostly of type or topotype specimens, of nearly every described scleractinian genus. The classification proposed rests primarily on the structure of the septa, but other skeletal structures as well as the soft parts are utilized and considered. The order Scleractinia is divided into five suborders: Astrocoeniida, Fungiida, Faviida, Caryophylliida, and Dendrophylliida. The first is quite distinct from the others and includes corals with septa composed of relatively few trabeculae. The other four include corals in which the septa consist of a relatively large number of trabeculae. The Fungiida is marked by the fundamentally fenestrate arrangement of the trabeculae, whereas the arrangement is laminar in the Faviida, Caryophylliida, and Dendrophylliida. In the Faviida the septal margins are dentate; in the Caryophylliida they are smooth; and in the Dendrophylliida some septa may become secondarily lacerate or dentate. The subdivision of the suborders into lesser categories is based upon the modification of septal structure and other skeletal elements, mode of colony - formation, form of the corallum, and phylogeny of the groups. The systematic classification is prefaced by an historical résumé of previous investigations of the Scleractinia and a brief discussion of the anatomy and morphology of the polyps and skeletal structures. The several different modes of sexual and asexual reproduction and increase are carefully analyzed because of their relation to growth form and from this is developed a discussion of morphogenesis of the corallum. Considerable attention is paid to the ecology of recent corals—much is known concerning the reef-building forms, but certain aspects of the ecology of the ahermatypic or non-reef-builders are here extensively considered for the first time. The distribution of fossil and recent scleractinian faunas is broadly analyzed and some suggestions concerning the evolution of the order are made. A classified list of over a thousand titles dealing with all aspects of the Scleractinia and fifty-one plates illustrating nearly three-fourths of the approximately 500 genera recognized conclude the work.
Biogeographic patterns for azooxanthellate corals are not as well known as those of zooxanthellate (primarily reef-building) corals. I analyzed occurrences of 129 species of azooxanthellate corals in 19 geopolitical regions in the Caribbean and surrounding areas. I performed an unweighted pair-group method with arithmetic averages (UPGMA) cluster analysis using Bray-Curtis' similarity measure on the complete data set and shallow- and deep-water subsets of the data. The results indicate two provinces, each with a widespread (tropical and subtropical distributions) component to its fauna. One province has a tropical and primarily insular component to it, while the other has a subtropical and primarily continental component. By contrast, zooxanthellate corals have a uniform faunal composition throughout the Caribbean. Moreover, zooxanthellate corals have half as many species in the Caribbean as the azooxanthellate corals even though their global diversities are equal. These differences in diversity and geographic distribution patterns should be considered when developing conservation strategies.