A new cave-dwelling reef coral discovered in the Indo-Pacific
Coral specialist Dr. Bert W. Hoeksema of Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden, The Netherlands, recently published the description of a new coral species that lives on the ceilings of caves in Indo-Pacific coral reefs. It differs from its closest relatives by its small polyp size and by the absence of symbiotic algae, so-called zooxanthellae. Its distribution range overlaps with the Coral Triangle, an area that is famous for its high marine species richness. Marine zoologists of Naturalis visit this area frequently to explore its marine biodiversity. Reef corals in shallow tropical seas normally need the symbiotic algae for their survival and growth. Without these algae, many coral reefs would not exist. During periods of elevated seawater temperature, most reef corals lose their algae, which is visible as a dramatic whitening of the reefs, a coral disease known as bleaching.
Most reef corals generally do not occur over 40 m depth, a twilight zone where sunlight is not bright anymore, but some species of the genus Leptoseris are exceptional and may even occur much deeper. At greater depths, seawater is generally colder and corals here may be less susceptible to bleaching than those at shallower depths. Despite the lack of zooxanthellae and its small size, the skeleton structures of the new species indicate that it is closely related to these Leptoseris corals, although it has not been found deeper than 35 m so far.
The species is named Leptoseris troglodyta. The word troglodyta is derived from ancient Greek and means "one who dwells in holes," a cave dweller. The discovery sheds new light on the relation of reef corals with symbiotic algae. The new species has adapted to a life without them. Consequently, it may not grow fast, which would be convenient because space is limited on cave ceilings. The species description is published in the open access journal ZooKeys.
Source: Pensoft Publishers
- Having too many algal symbionts makes corals bleach more severely in response to warmingfrom PhysorgSun, 14 Oct 2012, 13:01:35 EDT
- Strange Cave-Dwelling Coral Discovered in Tropical Reefsfrom Live ScienceThu, 11 Oct 2012, 16:30:55 EDT
- Strange cave-dwelling coral discovered in tropical reefsfrom MSNBC: ScienceThu, 11 Oct 2012, 12:31:18 EDT
- New cave-dwelling reef coral discovered in the Indo-Pacificfrom Science DailyThu, 11 Oct 2012, 10:00:58 EDT
- A new cave-dwelling reef coral discovered in the Indo-Pacificfrom PhysorgThu, 11 Oct 2012, 3:00:23 EDT
Latest Science NewsletterGet the latest and most popular science news articles of the week in your Inbox! It's free!
Learn more about
Check out our next project, Biology.Net
From other science news sites
Popular science news articles
- Remains of bizarre group of extinct snail-eating Australian marsupials discovered
- 3-D model reveals how invisible waves move materials within aquatic ecosystems
- NASA looks at winds in developing tropical cyclone
- NASA's GPM satellite sees potential Atlantic tropical cyclone
- Migration back to Africa took place during the Paleolithic
- Zika virus may be linked to more eye problems in Brazilian babies with microcephaly
- Study explores why there is no Labor Party in the United States
- Astronomers find giant planet around very young star
- Why is there no Labor Party in the United States?
- Discovery could energize development of longer-lasting batteries
- The Lancet Psychiatry: Magic mushroom compound psilocybin could provide new avenue for antidepressant research
- Evidence of repeated rapid retreat of the East Antarctic ice sheet
- Stellar cannibalism transforms star into brown dwarf
- Scientists predict extensive ice loss from huge Antarctic glacier
- New horned dinosaur species with 'spiked shield' identified by Canadian Museum of Nature