Biodiversity Research Center, Academia Sinica

A user-friendly field guide to coral taxonomy in Lyudao, Taiwan

Experience of taxonomy is fundamental to study coral communities. However, current taxonomic books available are difficult for self-learning, especially beginners.

“Staghorm Corals of the World” by Wallace (1999), “Corals of the World” by Veron (2000), and “Scleractinia fauna of Taiwan” by Dai and Horng (2009) are important references of coral taxonomy in Taiwan. However, the first 2books were published nearly two decades ago and fail to address recent and drastic changes in coral systematics. In addition, global references include many coral species that do not exist locally. Further, live coral images taken from other regions often do not reflect typical appearances of species in Taiwan, mainly due to geographic variations in morphology. Wallace (1999) and Dai and Horng (2009) provided a limited number of live coral images whilst failing to acknowledge morphological variations.

To overcome these problems, we decided to create a localized field guide based on the 3 taxonomic references. Our new field guide has the following features; (1) concise and updated descriptions (2) plain and simple English (3) abundant live coral images taken locally and (4) clear identification information for similar species. This field guide was created in a PDF format and is freely downloadable on the website of the Biodiversity Research Center at Academia Sinica (BRCAS) (see download link below).

This project began in the summer of 2017 and has been conducted through collaborative efforts by coral researchers in Taiwan and Japan. Main members are: Chia-Ling Fong (BRCAS), Jia-Ho Shiu (BRCAS), Yoko Nozawa (BRCAS), Ming-Jay Ho (BRCAS), Takuma Mezaki (Biological Institute on Kuroshio, Japan), Hironobu Fukami (Miyazaki University, Japan).

Currently, pages of most Acropora species in Lyudao are available free for download. Eventually, we are planning to include more than 200 dominant reef coral species in Lyudao to the field guide. We hope that this field guide of Lyudao can be used as a basis for future field guides at other locations in neighboring countries, by adding or subtracting their local species. We are looking forward to collaborate with other researchers to create field guides for other localities in Southeast Asia.