Expansion of the invasive corals Tubastraea coccinea and Tubastraea tagusensis into the Tamoios Ecological Station Marine Protected Area, Brazil.
The scleractinian corals Tubastraea coccinea Lesson, 1829 and Tubastraea tagusensis Wells, 1882 are the first alien corals to be introduced into the South Atlantic and threaten native marine organisms due to their noxious attributes. This study aimed to determine the spatial distribution and relative abundance of these species throughout the Tamoios Ecological Station Marine Protected Area (MPA). Monitoring was carried out at 33 sites by two snorkel divers swimming parallel to the shore and observing the substrate, diagnosing and visually estimating the relative abundance of both species on a scale: dominant, abundant, frequent, occasional, rare or absent. The study presents new records which demonstrate that the MPA is being invaded by both species and that T. tagusensis is leading the invasion from west to east. Most sites are near the original probable point of introduction into the region.