Building on an existing database on stony reef corals in the South China Sea, researchers used data from GBIF and others to analyse coral species richness, rarity and phylogenetic diversity in the South China Sea, and to clarify relationships between regional and global patterns of coral diversity. The resulting data point to considerable differences between examined reef areas in the region. One area (West Malaysia) contains a very high number of both regionally and globally rare species, and another (northern Palawan) has only two, albeit extremely rare species, present only in one ecoregion. Generally, a high number of rare species is associated with high richness, with southern Vietnam being a notable exception. The authors couple their data with IUCN extinction risks, and conclude that conservation planning in the South China Sea shouldn’t be based on species diversity alone.
Huang D, Hoeksema BW, Affendi YA, Ang PO, Chen CA, Huang H, Lane DJW, Licuanan WY, Vibol O, Vo ST, Yeemin T and Chou LM (2016) Conservation of reef corals in the South China Sea based on species and evolutionary diversity. Biodiversity and Conservation. Springer Science + Business Media, 331–344. Available at doi:10.1007/s10531-016-1052-7.