Disappearance and Return of an Outbreak of the Coral-killing Cyanobacteriosponge Terpios hoshinota in Southern Japan

Zool Stud. 2017 Apr 19;56:e7. doi: 10.6620/ZS.2017.56-07. eCollection 2017.


Masashi Yomogida, Masaru Mizuyama, Toshiki Kubomura, and James Davis Reimer (2017) Terpios hoshinota is cyanobacteriosponge that can cause serious damage to coral reef ecosystems by undergoing rapid breakouts in which it smothers and encrusts hard substrates, killing living sessile benthic organisms and reducing biodiversity of the a ected area. The reasons for these outbreaks are still unclear, as are long-term prognoses of affected reefs. Some reports have suggested outbreaks may not be permanent, but very little long-term monitoring information exists. In this study, we report on a T. hoshinota outbreak (~24% coverage) at Yakomo, Okinoerabu-jima Island, Kagoshima, Japan between 2010 to 2014. In this period, the existing outbreak was seen to almost completely disappear (~0%) after unusually severe Typhoon Songda passed by in early June 2011. After this, macroalgae and a cyanobacterial bloom became the dominant benthos, but by September 2014, T. hoshinota coverage had recovered to approximately half of its pre-typhoon coverage, suggesting the conditions that had caused the outbreak still persisted at Yakomo. While the conditions promoting T. hoshinota growth at this site remain uncertain, it appears that subtropical typhoons could play an important role in the dynamics of T. hoshinota outbreaks and disappearances.

Keywords: Outbreak; Phase shift; Subtropical coral reefs; Terpios hoshinota; Typhoon.