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Eastern Pacific Coral Reef Provinces, Coral Community Structure and Composition: An Overview

  • Peter W. GlynnEmail author
  • Juan J. Alvarado
  • Stuart Banks
  • Jorge Cortés
  • Joshua S. Feingold
  • Carlos Jiménez
  • James E. Maragos
  • Priscilla Martínez
  • Juan L. Maté
  • Diana A. Moanga
  • Sergio Navarrete
  • Héctor Reyes-Bonilla
  • Bernhard Riegl
  • Fernando Rivera
  • Bernardo Vargas-Ángel
  • Evie A. Wieters
  • Fernando A. Zapata
Chapter
Part of the Coral Reefs of the World book series (CORW, volume 8)

Abstract

Advances in our knowledge of eastern tropical Pacific (ETP) coral reef biogeography and ecology during the past two decades are briefly reviewed. Fifteen ETP subregions are recognized, including mainland and island localities from the Gulf of California (Mexico) to Rapa Nui (Easter Island, Chile). Updated species lists reveal a mean increase of 4.2 new species records per locality or an overall increase of 19.2 % in species richness during the past decade. The largest increases occurred in tropical mainland Mexico, and in equatorial Costa Rica and Colombia, due mainly to continuing surveys of these under-studied areas. Newly discovered coral communities are also now known from the southern Nicaraguan coastline. To date 47 zooxanthellate scleractinian species have been recorded in the ETP, of which 33 also occur in the central/south Pacific, and 8 are presumed to be ETP endemics. Usually no more than 20–25 zooxanthellate coral species are present at any given locality, with the principal reef-building genera being Pocillopora, Porites, Pavona, and Gardineroseris. This compares with 62–163 species at four of the nearest central/south Pacific localities. Hydrocorals in the genus Millepora also occur in the ETP and are reviewed in the context of their global distributions. Coral community associates engaged in corallivory, bioerosion, and competition for space are noted for several localities. Reef framework construction in the ETP typically occurs at shallow depths (2–8 m) in sheltered habitats or at greater depths (10–30 m) in more exposed areas such as oceanic island settings with high water column light penetration. Generally, eastern Pacific reefs do not reach sea level with the development of drying reef flats, and instead experience brief periods of exposure during extreme low tides or drops in sea level during La Niña events. High rates of mortality during El Niño disturbances have occurred in many ETP equatorial areas, especially in Panama and the Galápagos Islands during the 1980s and 1990s. Remarkably, however, no loss of resident, zooxanthellate scleractinian species has occurred at these sites, and many ETP coral reefs have demonstrated significant recovery from these disturbances during the past two decades.

Keywords

Species distributions Biogeography Eastern Pacific Coral occurrences Species richness 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The following organizations facilitated research in the ETP: Mexico—Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (CONACYT) project numbers 108302 and 183534; Costa Rica—Centro de Investigación en Ciencias del Mar y Limnología (CIMAR), University of Costa Rica; Panama—University of Panama, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI); Colombia—Colciencias, Conservation International, Fundación para la Promoción de la Investigación y la Tecnología del Banco de la República, Instituto de Investigaciones Marinas y Costeras (INVEMAR), Parques Nacionales Naturales, Universidad del Valle, World Wildlife Fund, and members of the Coral Reef Research Group at Universidad del Valle; Ecuador—Charles Darwin Foundation, Galápagos National Park Service, Charles Darwin Research Station; Conservation International; Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation, Saudi Arabia; Chile, Rapa Nui—Henri and Michel Garcia (ORCA Diving Center), H. Buck-Weise, I. Burgues, A. Medrano, T. Navarrete Fernandez, A. Perés-Matus, FONDECYT grant no. 1130167, and Center for Marine Conservation Nucleo Milenio Initiative P10-033F; research at several ETP sites was supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation (Biological Oceanography Program) and the U.S. National Geographic Society. Assistance with coral distributional records and species identifications was kindly offered by I.B. Baums, E.H. Borneman, S.D. Cairns, D. Fenner, D.K. Hubbard, and J.E.N. Veron. Joshua Levy helped with the graphics, tables, and organization of the text, and Rafael Araujo with editorial advice. The organization and clarity of this overview benefitted greatly from suggestions offered by A.C. Baker, W.M. Goldberg, and L.T. Toth. Finally, we are all indebted to the late John W. Wells, directly or indirectly, for showing us the way in the study of eastern Pacific corals.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter W. Glynn
    • 1
    Email author
  • Juan J. Alvarado
    • 2
  • Stuart Banks
    • 3
  • Jorge Cortés
    • 4
  • Joshua S. Feingold
    • 5
  • Carlos Jiménez
    • 6
  • James E. Maragos
    • 7
  • Priscilla Martínez
    • 8
  • Juan L. Maté
    • 9
  • Diana A. Moanga
    • 10
  • Sergio Navarrete
    • 11
  • Héctor Reyes-Bonilla
    • 12
  • Bernhard Riegl
    • 13
  • Fernando Rivera
    • 14
  • Bernardo Vargas-Ángel
    • 15
  • Evie A. Wieters
    • 16
  • Fernando A. Zapata
    • 17
  1. 1.Department of Marine Biology and EcologyRosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric ScienceMiamiUSA
  2. 2.Escuela de Biología/Museo de Biología, Centro de Investigación en Ciencias del Mar y Limnología (CIMAR)Universidad de Costa RicaSan PedroCosta Rica
  3. 3.Marine Ecosystem Research ProgrammeCharles Darwin Research StationQuitoEcuador
  4. 4.Centro de Investigación en Ciencias del Mar y Limnología (CIMAR), Escuela de Biología, Ciudad de la InvestigaciónUniversidad de Costa RicaSan PedroCosta Rica
  5. 5.Department of Marine and Environmental Sciences, Halmos College of Natural Sciences and OceanographyNova Southeastern UniversityFort LauderdaleUSA
  6. 6.Energy, Environment and Water Research Center (EEWRC)The Cyprus Institute (CyI)NicosiaCyprus
  7. 7.Department of GeographyUniversity of Hawaii at ManoaHonoluluUSA
  8. 8.Instituto Nazca de Investigaciones MarinasSalinasEcuador
  9. 9.Smithsonian Tropical Research InstitutePanamaRepublic of Panama
  10. 10.Department of Environmental Science, Policy, & ManagementUniversity of California, BerkeleyBerkeleyUSA
  11. 11.Estación Costera de Investigaciones Marinas, Advanced Studies in Ecology and Biodiversity, Departamento de Ecología, Facultad de Ciencias Biológicas, PontificiaUniversidad Católica de ChileSantiagoChile
  12. 12.Departamento Académico de Biología MarinaUniversidad Autónoma de Baja California SurLa Paz, B.C.SMexico
  13. 13.Department of Marine and Environmental Sciences, Halmos College of Natural Sciences and OceanographyNova Southeastern UniversityDaniaUSA
  14. 14.Instituto Nazca de Investigaciones MarinasSalinasEcuador
  15. 15.Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, Coral Reef Ecosystem DivisionNOAA Inouye Regional CenterHonoluluUSA
  16. 16.Estación Costera de Investigaciones Marinas, and Departamento de Ecología, Facultad de Ciencias BiológicasPontificia Universidad Católica de ChileSantiagoChile
  17. 17.Departamento de BiologíaUniversidad del ValleCaliColombia

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