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Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 26, Issue 1, pp 23–36 | Cite as

Hong Kong’s rich marine biodiversity: the unseen wealth of South China’s megalopolis

  • Terence P. T. Ng
  • Martin C. F. Cheng
  • Kevin K. Y. Ho
  • Gilbert C. S. Lui
  • Kenneth M. Y. Leung
  • Gray A. Williams
Review Paper

Abstract

Hong Kong is famous as a bustling harbour and financial centre, with a dense burgeoning population impacting its coastal environment. Yet, away from the skyscrapers and the pressures of anthropogenic influence, Hong Kong supports a rich marine biodiversity, including corals and mangrove communities. Despite having a small marine area (1651 km2), a total of 5943 marine species have been recorded in Hong Kong waters. Most of these species were reported during the 1980s and 1990s, but new species continue to be discovered, and ~6500 species are estimated. Even though Hong Kong’s marine area is only ~0.03 % of that of China, the number of marine species recorded in Hong Kong already accounts for ~26 % of the total recorded in China. Hong Kong also contributes to a considerable amount (>30 %) of the species records for several taxa including amphipods, cephalopods, polychaetes and fish in the South China Sea, and ~29 % of the hermit crab species in the largest global marine species database, the World Register of Marine Species. These findings demonstrate the rich marine biota found in Hong Kong, which probably reflects Hong Kong’s location within the fringes of the world’s marine biodiversity hotspot.

Keywords

Biota Hotspot Inventory Species checklist Species richness 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We thank Dr Mark Costello (The University of Auckland) for his professional advice on methods of constructing a species inventory which are in line with international standards. Mr Eric Keung (Tai Po Environmental Association), Ms Carmen Or and Ms Weilun Chang (HKU) are thanked for their advice concerning data entry. We are also grateful to Prof. Yvonne Sadovy (HKU) for her sharing of the Hong Kong marine fish database. Special thanks go to Dr. Mak Yiu Ming (AFCD), Dr. Ng Wai Chuen (AFCD) and Dr. Jianhua Liu (EPD) for their kind assistance in searching for relevant literature from various departments of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR). Two reviewers are also thanked for their constructive comments on the manuscript. This work was funded by the Environment and Conservation Fund (ECF, HKSAR Government, Project No: ECF 27/2011), and was further supported by the Research Grants Council of the HKSAR Government via a Collaborative Research Fund (Project No: HKU5/CRF/12G).

Supplementary material

10531_2016_1224_MOESM1_ESM.docx (221 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 221 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Terence P. T. Ng
    • 1
  • Martin C. F. Cheng
    • 1
  • Kevin K. Y. Ho
    • 1
  • Gilbert C. S. Lui
    • 2
  • Kenneth M. Y. Leung
    • 1
    • 3
  • Gray A. Williams
    • 1
  1. 1.The Swire Institute of Marine Science and School of Biological SciencesThe University of Hong KongHong Kong SARChina
  2. 2.Department of Statistics and Actuarial ScienceThe University of Hong KongHong Kong SARChina
  3. 3.State Key Laboratory in Marine PollutionCity University of Hong KongKowloon, Hong Kong SARChina

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