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Conservation of biodiversity: a critical time for the hermatypic corals of Japan

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Results of a long-term study of the taxonomy, distribution and abundance of the hermatypic corals of the Ryukyu Is. and mainland Japan indicate that the present high diversity is threatened by a quantitative and qualitative decrease in available habitat caused by Acanthaster planci predation and human-induced environmental deterioration. Ninety-eight sites were studied, allowing detailed comparison between the three main groups of the Ryukyu Is. (Yaeyama, Okinawa and Amami Groups) and seven principal coral regions of mainland Japan (Tanegashima, Amakusa Is., the Tosashimizu and Kushimoto regions, and the Shirahama, Izu and Tateyama Peninsulas). Within this area, 400 species have been recorded and 9 additional species are recorded from the literature, from additional localities, or with doubt, from the Ryukyu Is. In non-mutually exclusive distribution and abundance categories for the Ryukyu Is. and mainland Japan: 129 species are common in at least some Japanese localities; 24 are widely dispersed within the Indo-Pacific, but occur in small, perhaps disjunct populations in Japan; 149 are uncommon throughout their Indo-west Pacific distribution ranges including Japan; 38 are restricted to the Yaeyama Group where all but three are uncommon or rare; 69 purely reefal (Ryukyu Is.) species are rare; 17 are rare in the Ryukyu Is. but are relatively common in mainaland locations; and 8 species appear to be endemic to mainland Japan and adjacent Asian countries. Some 37% of all Japanese hermatypic corals are uncommon throughout their range in Japan and are at some risk of regional extinction, 29% of others are rare and at substantial risk as they occur only in very limited areas of high diversity or in species-specific refuges. These sites are dientified. Of the 8 endemic species, 5 are primarily restricted to species-specific refuges. These data indicate an unstable situation. At least one third of all Japanese hermatypic species will eventually be at risk if the present causes of diversity decrease are not remedied.

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Veron, J.E.N. Conservation of biodiversity: a critical time for the hermatypic corals of Japan. Coral Reefs 11, 13–21 (1992).

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  • Sedimentology
  • Coral Region
  • Critical Time
  • Endemic Species
  • Limited Area