Coral Reefs

, Volume 32, Issue 1, pp 153–153 | Cite as

“Locally extinct” coral species Seriatopora hystrix found at upper mesophotic depths in Okinawa

  • Frederic Sinniger
  • Masaya Morita
  • Saki Harii
Reef Site


Japan Lower Boundary Genetic Structure Community Composition Abundant Species 
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Following the bleaching events of 1998 and 2001, Seriatopora hystrix disappeared from shallow reefs around Okinawa Island, Japan (van Woesik et al. 2011). Here we report finding S. hystrix in a mesophotic coral ecosystem near Motobu Peninsula on Okinawa Island. This diverse coral community occurs on the reef downslope from ~35 m and extends to at least 47 m depth, with the lower boundary yet to be defined. Along with Acropora tenella (Fig. 1) and Pachyseris speciosa (Fig. 2), S. hystrix (Fig. 3) is one of the most abundant species in this community. Following the “extinction” of shallow S. hystrix, no new recruitment events were observed in nearby shallow reefs; thus, the presence of a deep population of this species likely does not originate in recent recruitment but would demonstrate that S. hystrix has not gone extinct in this location. Potentially, this deep population could contribute to the recolonization of S. hystrix at shallower depths, although that is strongly dependent on the level of genetic structuring over depth (Bongaerts et al. 2011; van Oppen et al. 2011). The importance of other “shallow” species in community composition is being further investigated to determine the possible role of this reef as refugium.
Fig. 1

Acropora tenella covers large areas of the reef, shown here at 39 m

Fig. 2

Coral community at 40 m, showing Pachyseris speciosa, as well as Seriatopora hystrix and other species

Fig. 3

Coral community at 47 m dominated by S. hystrix



The authors thank S. Nakamura, Y. Nakano and S. Kadena for their help accessing this reef, as well as the anonymous reviewers and Dr. P. Dunlap for their precious comments on the manuscript. This work was funded through a Sasagawa Scientific Research Grant from The Japan Science Society to FS (24-748) and a grant from the Mitsubishi Foundation to SH.


  1. Bongaerts P, Riginos C, Hay KB, van Oppen MJH, Hoegh-Guldberg O, Dove S (2011) Adaptive divergence in a scleractinian coral: physiological adaptation of Seriatopora hystrix to shallow and deep reef habitats. BMC Evol Biol 11:303PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. van Oppen MJH, Bongaerts P, Underwood JN, Peplow LM, Coopers TF (2011) The role of deep reefs in shallow reef recovery: an assessment of vertical connectivity in a brooding coral from west and east Australia. Mol Ecol 20:1647–1660PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. van Woesik R, Sakai K, Ganase A, Loya Y (2011) Revisiting the winners and the losers a decade after coral bleaching. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 434:67–76CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Marine Biodiversity Program, Institute of BiogeoscienceJAMSTECYokosukaJapan
  2. 2.Global Oceanographic Data CenterNagoJapan
  3. 3.Sesoko Station, Tropical Biosphere Research CenterUniversity of the RyukyusMotobuJapan

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