Abstract

Rapid Ecological Assessment (REA) surveys at 465 sites on 11 reefs in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI) inventoried coral species, their relative abundances, and their distributions during 2000-2002. Surveys (462) around the 10 islands were in depths of a 20 m, and three surveys on the submerged Raita Bank were in depths of 30Ð35 m. Data from 401 REA sites met criteria for quantitative analysis. Results include 11 first records for stony coral species in the Hawaiian Archipelago and 29 range extensions to the NWHI. Several species may be new to science. There are now 57 stony coral species known in the shallow subtropical waters of the NWHI, similar to the 59 shallow and deep-water species known in the better-studied and more tropical main Hawaiian Islands. Coral endemism is high in the NWHI: 17 endemic species (30%) account for 37-53% of the abundance of stony corals on each reef of the NWHI. Three genera (Montipora, Porites, Pocillopora) contain 15 of the 17 endemic species and most of the endemic abundance. Seven Acropora species are now known from the central NWHI despite their near absence from the main Hawaiian Islands. Coral abundance and diversity are highest at the large, open atolls of the central NWHI (French Frigate, Maro, Lisianski) and decline gradually through the remaining atolls to the northwest (Pearl and Hermes, Midway, and Kure). Stony corals are also less abundant and less diverse off the exposed basalt islands to the southeast (Nihoa, Necker, La Perouse, Gardner), where soft corals (Sinularia, Palythoa) are more abundant. Exposure to severe wave action appears to limit coral development off these small islands and surrounding deep platforms. Temperature extremes and natural accumulation of lagoon sediments may contribute to decline of coral species and abundance at the northwestern end of the chain.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-6188
Print ISSN
0030-8870
Pages
pp. 211-230
Launched on MUSE
2004-04-04
Open Access
No
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