Marine Biodiversity

, Volume 45, Issue 4, pp 655–666 | Cite as

The status of hard coral communities at Kosrae, Micronesia

  • Zoe Richards
Original Paper


Coral diversity is increasingly threatened by multiple anthropogenic and climate stressors. Threatened species assessments play an important role in guiding conservation action for management and mitigation of losses, but to provide accurate assessments it is necessary to collect quantitative data at an appropriate scale. When assessed at a global scale the level of threat facing corals in the tropical western Pacific Ocean is perceived to be low. However, whether the global threat classifications reflect the needs of species at regional scales remains to be verified. Here the status of scleractinian coral diversity is explored at a little-known Micronesian locality, Kosrae (5°15’S 162°58 E). Sixteen percent of the species recorded on the current survey are classified as Vulnerable on a global scale; however, down-scaling the assessment suggests that a larger proportion of species (up to 25%) may be vulnerable to regional extinction because they occupy a low proportion of sites. Twelve species are classified as Vulnerable at global and regional scales, and further monitoring of threatened species is needed to verify the status of 53 species that are listed as Data Deficient in the region. Despite the lower level of perceived extinction risk to coral communities in the NW Pacific, this study suggests the risk of regional diversity loss may be higher than expected. Ongoing coral reef monitoring and integrated watershed management to mitigate the threat of regional extinctions is needed.


Beta diversity Biodiversity Local abundance and occupancy patterns Near-pristine Threatened species Scleractinia Succession 



The fieldwork component of this survey was funded by the Australian Museum Foundation and the write-up phase of the project was partly supported by Woodside Energy. Thanks also to the Department of Resources and Economic Affairs and to the Kosrae Conservation and Safety Organisation, particularly Andy George, Marston Luckymis and Osamu Nedlic for supporting this project, provision of the boat and crew, permitting and participating in fieldwork. I am grateful to Jim Maragos for providing his species list pertaining to surveys undertaken in 1986 and 2006. Thanks to Lyndon DeVantier for the provision of coral species data from the 2005 assessment of Pohnpei and for discussion about the coral index. Thanks to Rodrigo Garcia for compiling the base maps used in Fig. 1 and for his valuable input into the revised coral index. Thanks to JP Hobbs for participation in fieldwork. Thanks also to Bruce and Katrina from Kosrae Village and Ben for enthusically participating in fieldwork. Lastly, thank you to Bert Hoeksema and two anonymous reviewers for their valuable contributions to the revised manuscript.

Supplementary material

12526_2014_266_MOESM1_ESM.doc (52 kb)
Online Resource 1 Site locality details. Latitude and longitude are presented in degree.decimal format (geographical, WGS84), survey date, depth and nearest mooring are also listed. (DOC 52 kb)
12526_2014_266_MOESM2_ESM.xlsx (26 kb)
Online Resource 2 Scleractinian coral species recorded in Kosrae on the current survey, the number and proportion of sites occupied by each species (n sites = 22) and level of global extinction risk according to IUCN categories and criteria and the level of relative regional extinction risk based upon the quantitative data compiled in this study. Listed also are species recorded in historical surveys and other taxonomic source material. Species that were not previously recorded in Kosrae are highlighted. * indicates a specimen was obtained. (XLSX 25.8 kb)


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Copyright information

© Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Aquatic Zoology, Western Australian MuseumWelshpoolAustralia

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