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The branching morphology created homes and protection for many other reef organisms. #1 elkhorn coral #15 purple sea fan #18 Atlantic blue tang #24 brain coral #25 purple sea sponge #29 staghorn coral #32 queen conch #39 orange sea sponge Now scroll to the eighth and final image, with the caption Coral Reef Illustration Key. They are ecological systems that include the stony boulder corals such as brain corals and star corals; branching corals such as staghorn and elkhorn corals; and soft corals such as sea fans and sea whips. Credit: NOAA Fisheries. Through their ecosystem services, Elkhorn coral increase the commercial value of coral reefs. Effective June 8, 2006, the species was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act of 1973.[14]. While a colony can persist for centuries, individual coral polyps usually live for 2 to 3 years. Elkhorn coral get food from photosynthetic algae that live inside the coral's cells. Staghorn coral is one of the most important corals in the Caribbean. The species has a complex structure with many branches which resemble that of elk antlers; hence, the common name. Fireworms and corallivorous snail species range over the coral colony, grazing on polyps. Unsustainable fishing, Determining the size of the elkhorn coral population—and whether it is increasing or decreasing from year to year—helps resource managers assess the success of the conservation measures enacted. Predation can eventually lead to the death of the coral colony. Learn more about the 4(d) rule for elkhorn coral (PDF, 2 pages). [13], Since the 1980s, Elkhorn coral populations have rapidly declined by an estimated 97%. These outbreaks may be a result of overfishing of the crown-of-thorns starfish’s primary predator, the giant triton or they may be a natural phenomenon. Three‐spot damsel recruits increased over the last 3 years of the project. The specific regions designated and protected by the Endangered Species Act as critical habitats include regions in Florida (1,329 square miles of marine habitat), Puerto rico (3,582 square miles of marine habitat), St.John/St.Thomas (121 square miles of marine habitat), and St.Croix area (126 square miles of marine habitat).[5][11]. As stated earlier, most of the oxygen coral receive is from their zooxanthellae, so without this oxygen, Elkhorn coral can quickly suffocate and die.[18]. All recruits initially settled on transplanted elkhorn corals, but 57% of recruits settled on other microhabitats by end of study. Curb ocean warming and acidification impacts to health, reproduction, and growth, and possibly curb disease threats, by reducing atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations. in Support of Section 7 Consultat…. [citation needed] In addition, climate change increases the severity and prevalence of storms, which can decimate Elkhorn coral populations. This process is called ocean acidification. Individual colonies can grow to at least 6 feet in height and 12 feet in diameter. The Program focuses on implementing projects to address the impacts from the top three recognized global threats to coral reefs: climate change (including ocean acidification), land-based sources of pollution, and unsustainable fishing practices. Name: Elkhorn Coral. Some documentation with regulations existed; however, no documents specifically mentioned by name the Elkhorn coral or any other Acropora corals. Also, macroalgae reduce the amount of suitable areas where Elkhorn coral larvae attach, reducing the ability for Elkhorn reefs to recover. As previously mentioned, Elkhorn coral does best in environments that are shallow and experience high energy changes, which aid in the reproductive process.[7].

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