Unprecedented calcareous algal reefs in northern Taiwan merit high conservation priority

Coral Reefs, Sep 2017

Ching-Yu Liou, Sung-Yin Yang, Chaolun Allen Chen

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Unprecedented calcareous algal reefs in northern Taiwan merit high conservation priority

Unprecedented calcareous algal reefs in northern Taiwan merit high conservation priority C.-Y. Liou Fig. 0 h Institut 0 n (CCA) reef (grey along the coastline 0 image by Aerial Survey Office 0 C. A. Ch 0 0 algal reef exposed to the air. e Undescribed CCA species, Phymatolithon sp. nov. Biodiversity Research Center , Academia Sinica, Nangang, Taipei 115, (left) and Mesophyllum sp. nov. (right) Taiwan Crustose coralline algae (CCA) concretions, or reefs, are mainly found below 10 m in temperate waters (Ballesteros 2006) and rarely in subtropical and tropical oceans. However, a massive CCA reef occurs on tidal flats extending continuously along the coastline of Taoyuan City, Northwest Taiwan (25 07¢00.11†N, 121 14¢22.23†E to 24 59¢19.34†N, 121 00¢47.00†E) (Fig. 1a). It is approximately 27 km long and a maximum of 450 m wide with a large tidal range of 4 m (Fig. 1b; Electronic supplementary video). Carbon-14 dating indicates that the reef dates from around 7500 BP; it consists of some sedimenttolerant corals, such as Cyphastrea and Dipsastraea (Dai et al. 2009). From 4400 BP to the present, CCA genera, such as Mesophyllum, Phymatolithon, and Harveylithon, have contributed to the present algal reef through constant growth as stacked layers over the surface of the reef (Fig. 1c), which is porous (Fig. 1d). The Taoyuan CCA reef performs similar ecosystem functions to those of coral reefs. However, long-term industrial pollution and continuous habitat destruction by land reclamation for an industrial park (Liou 2017) and windmill constructions (Fig. 1b) threaten the future of this reef system. The discovery of a newly described endemic coral species, Polycanthus chaishanensis, two undescribed species of CCA (Fig. 1e), and changes in the composition of layers over time highlight the merit of prioritizing conservation of this unique ecosystem in Taiwan. Ballesteros E (2006) Mediterranean coralligenous assemblages: a synthesis of present knowledge. Oceanogr Mar Biol Annu Rev 44:123-195 Dai CF, Wang SW, Chang JS, Jeng AI (2009) Handbook for ecological tours of Guanyin algae reef. CPC Corporation, Taiwan Liou CY (2017) Heavy metal pollution in algal reef coasts of northwest Taiwan. Taiwan Journal of Biodiversity 19:49-95 - Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00338-017-1619-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.


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Ching-Yu Liou, Sung-Yin Yang, Chaolun Allen Chen. Unprecedented calcareous algal reefs in northern Taiwan merit high conservation priority, Coral Reefs, 2017, 1-1, DOI: 10.1007/s00338-017-1619-0