Comparison of coral diversity between big and small atolls: a case study of Yongle atoll and Lingyang reef, Xisha Islands, central of South China Sea
The South China Sea (SCS) includes large areas of extensive coral reef development but its reefs are still poorly known. Yongle atoll is the biggest typical atoll in the Xisha Islands, central of SCS. Lingyang Reef is an isolated small atoll within the whole big Yongle atoll. A total of 144 and 119 coral species were recorded at big Yongle atoll and small Lingyang Reef, respectively. The real coral richness might be higher because species accumulation curve did not saturate. The coral diversity pattern was similar between big Yongle atoll and small Lingyang Reef. Coral communities fell into three clusters, consistent with their habitats on reef slope, reef flat and lagoon slope. The highest coral diversity was observed on reef slopes and the lowest coral diversity was found on lagoon slope. Genera richness was a better proxy for representing coral species diversity on both the big and small atoll but percent live coral cover was not a robust proxy on the small atoll, which only explained 24% of species diversity. This study demonstrated high coral diversity with consistent pattern along habitat types, as has been shown from many other reefs. While far from exhaustive, the study allows first glimpses on how much biodiversity is contained on SCS coral reefs, and hopes to give an impetus to their conservation. The study also suggests that simplified surveys at a small scale and the use of genera richness as an effective proxy for overall diversity can indeed provide important information to rapidly monitor and evaluate the coral diversity in remote locations.
Biodiversity and Conservation
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Zhao, Yu, K., Shi, Q., Yang, H., Riegl, B., Zhang, Q., Yan, H., Chen, T., Liu, G., & Lin, Z. (2017). Comparison of coral diversity between big and small atolls: a case study of Yongle atoll and Lingyang reef, Xisha Islands, central of South China Sea. Biodiversity and Conservation, 26(5), 1143–1159. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10531-017-1290-3