Stylophora pistillata | UAE National Red List of Marine Species: Reef-building corals, cartilaginous fishes and select bony fishes

Stylophora pistillata | Esper, 1797
Countries in Assessment
United Arab Emirates
Country ISO code(s)
Does the assessment cover a marine EEZ area(s)?
Scope (Assessment)
Taxonomic Group
Taxonomic Group Level 2
Assessed taxon level
Taxonomic Notes
{Attention RLU: Please change the taxonomic authority from Esper, 1797 to (Esper, 1792) . Reference is WoRMS. - C. Linardich 19Jan2022}
Taxon distribution as listed in assessment
This species found throughout the entire Gulf (Riegl et al. 2012). In UAE waters, it is known from both coasts (Riegl 1999, Grandcourt 2007, Riegl et al. 2012). Elsewhere, it is widely distributed in the Indo-Pacific.
Habitats and Ecology
Ecological system type
Terrestrial system
Freshwater system
Marine system
Habitat details as listed in assessment
It is primarily found in shallow water reef environments exposed to strong wave action. Sparse colonies of S. pistillata are found from 3-11 m in the South China Sea and Gulf of Siam (Titlyanov and Titlyanova 2002). This species is considered to be a main reef-framework builder and is found from 0-4 m of Eilat (Sheppard 1982). The maximum size is approximately 30 cm across. It can be found to 15 m.The age of first maturity of most reef building corals is typically three to eight years (Wallace 1999) and therefore we assume that average age of mature individuals is greater than eight years. Total longevity is not known, but likely to be more than ten years. Furthermore, based on average sizes and growth rates, we assume that average generation length is 10 years, unless otherwise stated. Therefore, any population decline rates for the Red List assessment are measured over at least 30 years.
Is there a map available in assessment?
Assessed status
Asessment status in full
Assessment status abreviation
Assessment status criteria
Assessment rationale/justification
This coral is uncommon in UAE waters, where it is generally associated with the northern emirates. Species of this genus are more susceptible to extreme environmental conditions. The most important known threat for this species is extensive reduction of coral reef habitat due to a combination of threats. It occurred in Umm al Quwain lagoon in 2014, but was locally extirpated during a coral bleaching event in 2017; it has been observed post-bleaching. Given its overall rarity, species-specific population trend data are not available. Therefore, population trends are inferred based on the overall coral mortality documented in shallow-water habitats of Abu Dhabi of about 73%. Based on this overall coral mortality in about half of its range, population declines are suspected to be at least 30% over the past three generation lengths (30 years). Therefore, it is listed as Vulnerable under criterion A2bc. No regional adjustment is made to the Vulnerable listing.
About the assessment
Assessment year
Assessors/contributors/reviewers listed
UAE National Red List Workshop
Affliation of assessor(s)/contributors/reviewers listed on assessment
Assessor affiliation specific
Criteria system
Criteria system specifics
IUCN v3.1
Criteria system used
Criteria Citation
IUCN. 2012. IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria: Version 3.1, Second edition. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK. iv + 32pp pp. And IUCN. 2012. Guidelines for Application of IUCN Red List Criteria at Regional and National Levels: Version 4.0. Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK: IUCN. iii + 41pp.
Endemic to region
Endemism Notes
Is an endemic?: Not_assigned
Threats listed in assessment
In the Gulf, the major threats to corals include extreme and increasing temperature variability due to climate change, as well as direct destruction and increased turbidity caused by coastal construction (Riegl et al. 2012). Although bleaching thresholds in the Gulf are the highest recorded in the world (Riegl et al. 2012), bleaching events in the UAE have resulted in significant mortality (such as in 1996-1998, 2002, 2010 and 2017) and slow recovery (Burt et al. 2008). In Abu Dhabi, the most recent coral bleaching event resulted in nearly 95% of corals bleaching, and by April 2018, mortality reached 73% (Burt et al. 2019). This event resulted in mass mortality of even the more stress-tolerant corals such as poritids and merulinids (Burt et al. 2019). Coastal development, particularly large-scale offshore real estate developments and sedimentation associated with reclamation, has directly buried coral reefs in the Gulf (Burt et al. 2008, 2013; Burt 2014; Burt and Bartholomew 2019). In the Sea of Oman, UAE reefs have experienced major hurricanes and harmful algal blooms that caused high coral mortality and shifted community structure (Bauman et al. 2010, Foster et al. 2011). Similar to Acropora, species in this genus are more susceptible to extreme environmental conditions (Riegl et al. 2012), possibly related to decreased capacity of its symbiotic zooxanthellae to cope with photo-damage (Yakovleva and Hidaka 2004).Globally, the major threat to corals is global climate change, in particular, temperature extremes leading to bleaching and increased susceptibility to disease, increased severity of ENSO events and storms, and ocean acidification.Coral disease has emerged as a serious threat to coral reefs worldwide and a major cause of reef deterioration (Weil 2006). The numbers of diseases and coral species affected, as well as the distribution of diseases have all increased dramatically within the last decade (Porter et al. 2001, Green and Bruckner 2000, Sutherland et al. 2004, Weil 2004). Coral disease epizootics have resulted in significant losses of coral cover and were implicated in the dramatic decline of acroporids in the Florida Keys (Aronson and Precht 2001, Porter et al. 2001, Patterson et al. 2002). In the Indo-Pacific, disease is also on the rise with disease outbreaks recently reported from the Great Barrier Reef (Willis et al. 2004), Marshall Islands (Jacobson 2006) and the northwestern Hawaiian Islands (Aeby et al. 2006). Increased coral disease levels on the GBR were correlated with increased ocean temperatures (Willis et al. 2004) supporting the prediction that disease levels will be increasing with higher sea surface temperatures. Escalating anthropogenic stressors combined with the threats associated with global climate change of increases in coral disease, frequency and duration of coral bleaching and ocean acidification place coral reefs in the Indo-Pacific at high risk of collapse.Localized threats to corals include fisheries, human development (industry, settlement, tourism, and transportation), changes in native species dynamics (competitors, predators, pathogens and parasites), invasive species (competitors, predators, pathogens and parasites), dynamite fishing, chemical fishing, pollution from agriculture and industry, domestic pollution, sedimentation, and human recreation and tourism activities.
Conservation Measures

Conservation measures:
Conservation measures notes:
Required conservation measures:

Scientific Name Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Stylophora pistillata Animalia Cnidaria Anthozoa Scleractinia Pocilloporidae Stylophora