Special Issue "Diversity of Coral-Associated Fauna"

A special issue of Diversity (ISSN 1424-2818). This special issue belongs to the section "Marine Diversity".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2020).

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A printed edition of this Special Issue is available here.

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Simone Montano
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Guest Editor
1. Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences (DISAT), University of Milano, Bicocca, Italy
2. MaRHE (Marine Research and High Education Center), Magoodhoo, Maldives
Interests: coral diseases; coral reef ecology; coral restoration; biodiversity; symbiosis; hydrozoans taxonomy
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Coral reefs are one of the most diverse types of ecosystems on Earth and one of the richest in terms of species interactions. Mutualistic, commensalistic, and parasitic associations are extremely abundant in such ecosystems, and this is primarily due to the topographic complexity created by many benthic organisms, such as reef building corals, that provide a plethora of habitats to support an extraordinary diversity of organisms from all kingdoms of life. Scleractinian corals are usually the most likely to provide numerous different habitats and to support many symbiotic relationships. However, many other invertebrate groups, such as sponges, bryozoans, and other cnidarians, establish strict symbiotic relationships with other marine organisms. Despite a few studies that have shown that some associations may increase coral resistance to external disturbances, the nature of these relationships, as well as the factors that drive their establishment, are poorly investigated. Considering that the widespread degradation of coral reef ecosystems endangers the existence of intimate relationships that often go unrecognized, to improve our knowledge on the complex networks connecting the fates of reef species is of paramount importance to identify key vulnerabilities, to predict possible responses to species loss, and hence to address effective conservation actions.

This Special Issue aims to elucidate the hidden diversity of coral reefs, stimulating the description of new associations involving soft and hard corals, without excluding other benthic organisms, such as sponges, bryozoans, tunicates, and other cnidarians. For this reason, we welcome research on the diversity and ecology of coral-associated fauna, as well as studies documenting and evaluating practical monitoring techniques and conservation measures. Particular attention will be given to papers that use multidisciplinary approaches to study several aspects of coral-associated fauna.

Dr. Simone Montano
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • Biodiversity;
  • Climate change;
  • Threats and impacts;
  • Conservation;
  • Monitoring techniques;
  • Morpho-Molecular approach;
  • Cryptofauna;
  • Symbioses;
  • Ecological role.

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Editorial

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Editorial
The Extraordinary Importance of Coral-Associated Fauna
Diversity 2020, 12(9), 357; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/d12090357 - 16 Sep 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 944
Abstract
Coral reefs are one of the most diverse marine ecosystems on Earth and one of the richest in terms of species interactions. Scleractinian corals are usually the most likely to provide numerous different habitats and to support many symbiotic relationships. However, many other [...] Read more.
Coral reefs are one of the most diverse marine ecosystems on Earth and one of the richest in terms of species interactions. Scleractinian corals are usually the most likely to provide numerous different habitats and to support many symbiotic relationships. However, many other invertebrate groups, such as sponges, bryozoans, and other cnidarians, establish strict symbiotic relationships with other marine organisms. Despite the nature of these relationships—as well as the factors that drive their establishment—being unclear in most cases, a few studies have already shown that some associations may increase the resistance of their hosts to external disturbances. Thus, the potential ability of each member of these diverse symbiotic assemblages to influence the fitness and long-term survival of their hosts bring the coral-associated fauna to the top of the list of coral reef studies. Unfortunately, the widespread degradation of coral reef ecosystems may threaten the existence of the intimate relationships that may go unrecognized complicating our understanding of the intricate networks connecting the fates of reef species. Therefore, this unprecedented loss of biodiversity calls for synergic conservation and monitoring actions aimed at significantly increasing our efforts to search for and describe as much of the diversity of coral-associated organisms as possible, shedding new light on the complex, elusive mechanisms controlling coral reef functioning. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Diversity of Coral-Associated Fauna)

Research

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Communication
Widespread Occurrence of a Rarely Known Association between the Hydrocorals Stylaster roseus and Millepora alcicornis at Bonaire, Southern Caribbean
Diversity 2020, 12(6), 218; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/d12060218 - 30 May 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1213
Abstract
Among symbiotic associations, cases of pseudo-auto-epizoism, in which a species uses a resembling but not directly related species as substrate, are poorly documented in coral reef ecosystems. In the present study, we assessed the distribution of an association between the hydrocorals Stylaster roseus [...] Read more.
Among symbiotic associations, cases of pseudo-auto-epizoism, in which a species uses a resembling but not directly related species as substrate, are poorly documented in coral reef ecosystems. In the present study, we assessed the distribution of an association between the hydrocorals Stylaster roseus and Millepora alcicornis on about 50% of coral reef sites studied in Bonaire, southern Caribbean. Although previously thought to be uncommon, associations between the lace coral S. roseus and the fire coral M. alcicornis were observed at both the windward and leeward sides of Bonaire, mainly between 15 and 25 m depth, reaching a maximum occupation of 47 S. roseus colonies on a single M. alcicornis colony. Both species’ tissues did not show any signs of injuries, while an in-depth inspection of the contact points of their skeletons revealed that both partners can partially overgrow each other. How it is possible that S. roseus is able to settle on the stinging tissue of Millepora as well as how, by contrast, the latter may facilitate the lace coral by offering a certain degree of protection are questions that deserve further investigations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Diversity of Coral-Associated Fauna)
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Article
Zoantharia (Cnidaria: Hexacorallia) of the Dutch Caribbean and One New Species of Parazoanthus
Diversity 2020, 12(5), 190; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/d12050190 - 12 May 2020
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 2433
Abstract
Species of the anthozoan order Zoantharia (=Zoanthidea) are common components of subtropical and tropical shallow water coral reefs. Despite a long history of research on their species diversity in the Caribbean, many regions within this sea remain underexamined. One such region is the [...] Read more.
Species of the anthozoan order Zoantharia (=Zoanthidea) are common components of subtropical and tropical shallow water coral reefs. Despite a long history of research on their species diversity in the Caribbean, many regions within this sea remain underexamined. One such region is the Dutch Caribbean, including the islands of St. Eustatius, St. Maarten, Saba, Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao, as well as the Saba Bank, for which no definitive species list exists. Here, combining examinations of specimens housed in the Naturalis Biodiversity Center collection with new specimens and records from field expeditions, we provide a list of zoantharian species found within the Dutch Caribbean. Our results demonstrate the presence at least 16 described species, including the newly described Parazoanthus atlanticus, and the additional potential presence of up to four undescribed species. These records of new and undescribed species demonstrate that although the zoantharian research history of the Caribbean is long, further discoveries remain to be found. In light of biodiversity loss and increasing anthropogenic pressure on declining coral reefs, documenting the diversity of zoantharians and other coral reef species to provide baseline data takes on a new urgency. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Diversity of Coral-Associated Fauna)
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Article
Green Fluorescence Patterns in Closely Related Symbiotic Species of Zanclea (Hydrozoa, Capitata)
Diversity 2020, 12(2), 78; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/d12020078 - 18 Feb 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1158
Abstract
Green fluorescence is a common phenomenon in marine invertebrates and is caused by green fluorescent proteins. Many hydrozoan species display fluorescence in their polyps and/or medusa stages, and in a few cases patterns of green fluorescence have been demonstrated to differ between closely [...] Read more.
Green fluorescence is a common phenomenon in marine invertebrates and is caused by green fluorescent proteins. Many hydrozoan species display fluorescence in their polyps and/or medusa stages, and in a few cases patterns of green fluorescence have been demonstrated to differ between closely related species. Hydrozoans are often characterized by the presence of cryptic species, due to the paucity of available morphological diagnostic characters. Zanclea species are not an exception, showing high genetic divergence compared to a uniform morphology. In this work, the presence of green fluorescence and the morpho-molecular diversity of six coral- and bryozoan-associated Zanclea species from the Maldivian coral reefs were investigated. Specifically, the presence of green fluorescence in polyps and newly released medusae was explored, the general morphology, as well as the cnidome and the interaction with the hosts, were characterized, and the 16S rRNA region was sequenced and analyzed. Overall, Zanclea species showed a similar morphology, with little differences in the general morphological features and in the cnidome. Three of the analyzed species did not show any fluorescence in both life stages. Three other Zanclea species, including two coral-associated cryptic species, were distinguished by species-specific fluorescence patterns in the medusae. Altogether, the results confirmed the morphological similarity despite high genetic divergence in Zanclea species and indicated that fluorescence patterns may be a promising tool in further discriminating closely related and cryptic species. Therefore, the assessment of fluorescence at a large scale in the whole Zancleidae family may be useful to shed light on the diversity of this enigmatic taxon. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Diversity of Coral-Associated Fauna)
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Article
Differential Occupation of Available Coral Hosts by Coral-Dwelling Damselfish (Pomacentridae) on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef
Diversity 2019, 11(11), 219; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/d11110219 - 15 Nov 2019
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1808
Abstract
Associations between habitat-forming, branching scleractinian corals and damselfish have critical implications for the function and trophic dynamics of coral reef ecosystems. This study quantifies how different characteristics of reef habitat, and of coral morphology, determine whether fish occupy a coral colony. In situ [...] Read more.
Associations between habitat-forming, branching scleractinian corals and damselfish have critical implications for the function and trophic dynamics of coral reef ecosystems. This study quantifies how different characteristics of reef habitat, and of coral morphology, determine whether fish occupy a coral colony. In situ surveys of aggregative damselfish–coral associations were conducted at 51 different sites distributed among 22 reefs spread along >1700 km of the Great Barrier Reef, to quantify interaction frequency over a large spatial scale. The prevalence of fish–coral associations between five damselfish (Chromis viridis, Dascyllus aruanus, Dascyllus reticulatus, Pomacentrus amboinensis and Pomacentrus moluccensis) and five coral species (Acropora spathulata, Acropora intermedia, Pocillopora damicornis, Seriatopora hystrix, and Stylophora pistillata) averaged ~30% across all corals, but ranged from <1% to 93% of small branching corals occupied at each site, depending on reef exposure levels and habitat. Surprisingly, coral cover was not correlated with coral occupancy, or total biomass of damselfish. Instead, the biomass of damselfish was two-fold greater on sheltered sites compared with exposed sites. Reef habitat type strongly governed these interactions with reef slope/base (25%) and shallow sand-patch habitats (38%) hosting a majority of aggregative damselfish-branching coral associations compared to reef flat (10%), crest (16%), and wall habitats (11%). Among the focal coral species, Seriatopora hystrix hosted the highest damselfish biomass (12.45 g per occupied colony) and Acropora intermedia the least (6.87 g per occupied colony). Analyses of local coral colony traits indicated that multiple factors governed colony usage, including spacing between colonies on the benthos, colony position, and colony branching patterns. Nevertheless, the morphological and habitat characteristics that determine whether or not a colony is occupied by fish varied among coral species. These findings illuminate the realized niche of one of the most important and abundant reef fish families and provide a context for understanding how fish–coral interactions influence coral population and community level processes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Diversity of Coral-Associated Fauna)
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Article
Zooxanthellate, Sclerite-Free, and Pseudopinnuled Octocoral Hadaka nudidomus gen. nov. et sp. nov. (Anthozoa, Octocorallia) from Mesophotic Reefs of the Southern Ryukyus Islands
Diversity 2019, 11(10), 176; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/d11100176 - 22 Sep 2019
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1699
Abstract
Shallow water coral reefs are the most diverse marine ecosystems, but there is an immense gap in knowledge when it comes to understanding the diversity of the vast majority of marine biota in these ecosystems. This is especially true when it comes to [...] Read more.
Shallow water coral reefs are the most diverse marine ecosystems, but there is an immense gap in knowledge when it comes to understanding the diversity of the vast majority of marine biota in these ecosystems. This is especially true when it comes to understudied small and cryptic coral reef taxa in understudied ecosystems, such as mesophotic coral reef ecosystems (MCEs). MCEs were reported in Japan almost fifty years ago, although only in recent years has there been an increase in research concerning the diversity of these reefs. In this study we describe the first stoloniferous octocoral from MCEs, Hadaka nudidomus gen. nov. et sp. nov., from Iriomote and Okinawa Islands in the southern Ryukyus Islands. The species is zooxanthellate; both specimens host Cladocopium LaJeunesse & H.J.Jeong, 2018 (formerly Symbiodinium ‘Clade C’) and were collected from depths of ~33 to 40 m. Additionally, H. nudidomus gen. nov. et sp. nov. is both sclerite-free and lacks free pinnules, and both of these characteristics are typically diagnostic for octocorals. The discovery and morphology of H. nudidomus gen. nov. et sp. nov. indicate that we still know very little about stoloniferous octocoral diversity in MCEs, their genetic relationships with shallower reef species, and octocoral–symbiont associations. Continued research on these subjects will improve our understanding of octocoral diversity in both shallow and deeper reefs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Diversity of Coral-Associated Fauna)
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Other

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Host-related Morphological Variation of Dwellings Inhabited by the Crab Domecia acanthophora in the Corals Acropora palmata and Millepora complanata (Southern Caribbean)
Diversity 2020, 12(4), 143; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/d12040143 - 05 Apr 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1158
Abstract
Brachyuran crabs of various families are known as obligate associates of stony corals, with many of these species living as endosymbionts inside the skeleton of their hosts [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Diversity of Coral-Associated Fauna)
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Extension of the Recorded Host Range of Caribbean Christmas Tree Worms (Spirobranchus spp.) with Two Scleractinians, a Zoantharian, and an Ascidian
Diversity 2020, 12(3), 115; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/d12030115 - 21 Mar 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1377
Abstract
Caribbean Christmas tree worms (Annelida: Polychaeta: Serpulidae: Spirobranchus) are considered host generalists in their associations with anthozoan (Scleractinia) and hydrozoan (Millepora) stony corals [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Diversity of Coral-Associated Fauna)
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The Spotted Cleaner Shrimp, Periclimenes yucatanicus (Ives, 1891), on an Unusual Scleractinian Host
Diversity 2019, 11(11), 213; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/d11110213 - 12 Nov 2019
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1307
Abstract
The spotted cleaner shrimp, Periclimenes yucatanicus (Ives, 1891), forms symbioses with sea anemones that may serve as cleaning stations for reef fishes [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Diversity of Coral-Associated Fauna)
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