Chapter Six - Population fluctuations of the fungiid coral Cycloseris curvata, Galápagos Islands, Ecuador
Advances in Marine Biology
Bernhard M. Riegl
Fungiid corals (Cnidaria: Anthozoa: Scleractinia) occur at isolated locations scattered throughout the eastern tropical Pacific. They can be reef-associated but are often found on sand and rubble substrata distant from reef coral habitat. Cycloseris curvata is known in this region from the southern Gulf of California, through Mexico, Costa Rica, and Panamá, and with the southern-most populations occurring in the Galápagos Islands, Ecuador. During Archipelago-wide surveys (1988–2019), living individuals of Cycloseris curvata were observed at only two locations, Devil's Crown (near Floreana Island) and Xarifa Island (near Española Island). The Devil's Crown population was observed from 1988 to 2017, whereas living individuals in the Xarifa population were observed from 2005 to 2009. In 2012 a death assemblage (dead skeletons) was discovered at Darwin Island, at the northern-most extent of the Archipelago. At Devil's Crown, visual surveys were performed annually or biennially from 1990 to 2012, with two more surveys in 2017 and 2019. The living Cycloseris curvata population consisted of 15 individuals in 1990 that gradually increased to 78 individuals by 1995. Over 200 individuals were observed in 1996, and high numbers persisted through 1998 with 335 individuals. Live tissue surface area per polyp ranged from 0.5 to 95.0 cm2. The population decreased to 112 individuals in 1999 (following warming associated with the 1997–98 El Niño), with further declines to 20 in 2009 (following cooling associated with the 2007 La Niña) and a rebound to 91 in 2012. After a 5y break in data collection, only one individual (28.3 cm2) was observed in 2017, and in 2019 none were observed. Although undetected living Cycloseris curvata populations may exist, and renewed recruitment provides some hope for population reestablishment, it is possible that this fungiid coral species is now extirpated from the Galápagos Archipelago.
Galápagos Islands, Cycloseris curvata, Fungiid, Devil's Crown, Eastern Tropical Pacific, Extirpation, El Niño, La Niña, ENSO
Life Sciences | Marine Biology
Feingold, Joshua and Brandon A. Brule. (2021). Chapter Six - Population fluctuations of the fungiid coral Cycloseris curvata, Galápagos Islands, Ecuador. In Bernhard M. Riegl (Eds.), Advances in Marine Biology (141-166).