Modifications of corallum morphology in black corals as an effect of associated fauna
Antipatharians, or black corals, are colonial anthozoans characterized by a chitinous skeletal axis covered to a varying degree with small spines. Important taxonomic features in this group are the size and the structure of polyps, as well as the skeleton morphology, including the mode of branching and/or pinnulation and the spine morphology. Black corals are a characteristic component of seamount suspension-feeding fauna and they often host abundant associated fauna. We examined ∼300 antipatharians with symbiotic polychaetes from oceanic rises of the Indo-Pacific region, representing the two families Myriopathidae and Antipathidae. All examined specimens had symbiotic polychaetes of the families Polynoidae [Benhamipolynoe antipathicola (Benham, 1927)] and Eunicidae (Eunice marianae Hartmann-Schröeder, 1998 and Eunice kristiani Hartmann-Schröeder, 1998). It appeared that the morphology of corallum and to some degree the morphology of the skeletal spines was influenced by symbiotic polychaetes. As these features are of a high taxonomic value in antipatharians, they should be used with a caution in black corals with associated polychaete fauna.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 01 November 2007
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