Part of the Coral Reefs of the World book series (CORW, volume 12)


Taiwan straddles tropical and subtropical latitudes in the North Pacific Ocean. While shallow-water coral reefs in Taiwan have been studied for many years, mesophotic coral ecosystems (MCEs) have recently enjoyed a surge of interest because they are hypothesized to provide a refuge for some reef species in distress. The distribution of MCEs in Taiwan is influenced by numerous biophysical and environmental variables including substrate availability, temperature, light irradiance, and sedimentation. In 1991, an early survey of the diversity of MCEs off Taiwan’s southern coast highlighted sedimentation and the lack of suitable substrates as important factors restricting reef communities at depths below 30 m. The steeply sloping east coast of Taiwan supports well-developed and more accessible MCEs and has therefore been the focus of recent research. Preliminary surveys have documented 18 macroalgal, 95 scleractinian, 33 octocoral, 2 antipatharian, 14 sponge, and 76 fish species. With the exception of a few scleractinians recorded for the first time and possibly restricted to mesophotic waters, the majority of species have a wide bathymetric distribution in Taiwan. However, low-light conditions at mesophotic depths in the north restrict the distribution of photosynthetic organisms to shallow waters. Only one zooxanthellate scleractinian species was found at depths below 40 m where benthic communities are dominated by fan- and whip-shaped octocorals. Historically, MCEs have received little research interest in Taiwan, and most current research is focused on descriptive studies. Future research should examine the ecological importance of these habitats and the roles they play in reef survival.


Mesophotic coral ecosystems Distribution Reef diversity Coral reefs Marginal reefs 



We would like to thank Tom Bridge, Chao-Yang Kuo, George Roff, and an anonymous reviewer for their comments and advice on this chapter. Authors also thank the Green Island Marine Research Station, Academia Sinica, and its staff for logistic support during fieldwork at Ludao. YB also acknowledges A. Shlagman for curatorial skills. This work was supported by grants from the Ministry of Science and Technology of Taiwan to VD (no. 104-2611-M-002-020-MY2, 106-2611-M-002-008), YMH (no. 105-2621-B-346-002), SLL (no. 105-2621-B-029-002), and CAC (no. 103-2621-B-001-004-MY3, 106-2611-M-001-005). This research was in part supported by the Israel Cohen Chair in Environmental Zoology to YB. In addition, SDP and DS are supported by PhD fellowships from the Taiwan International Graduate Program, Academia Sinica. NS benefits from a National Taiwan University postdoctoral fellowship (Taiwan, 106R4000). All specimens collected for this study were sampled under permits issued by Kenting National Park (no. 1050004090, Kenting), Taitung County Government (no. 1040000285, 1050083633, Green Island), Fisheries and Fishing Port Affairs Management office, New Taipei City Government (no. 1053205245, Longdong), and Keelung City Government (no. 1050115641, Keelung Island).

This work would not have been possible without the contribution of our respected colleague and friend Su Yeng. Master Su was a pioneer scuba diver in Taiwan, and inspired many of us. We would like to dedicate this chapter on Taiwan to him.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of OceanographyNational Taiwan UniversityTaipeiTaiwan
  2. 2.Biodiversity Program, Taiwan International Graduate Program, Academia SinicaNational Taiwan Normal UniversityTaipeiTaiwan
  3. 3.Department of Life ScienceNational Taiwan Normal UniversityTaipeiTaiwan
  4. 4.Biodiversity Research CenterAcademia SinicaTaipeiTaiwan
  5. 5.Faculty of Life Sciences, School of ZoologyTel Aviv UniversityTel AvivIsrael
  6. 6.Department of Marine RecreationNational Penghu University of Science and TechnologyMagongTaiwan
  7. 7.Naturalis Biodiversity CentreLeidenThe Netherlands
  8. 8.Department of Life ScienceTunghai UniversityTaichungTaiwan
  9. 9.Green Island Marine Research Station, Biodiversity Research CenterAcademia SinicaTaipeiTaiwan

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