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Phenological and morphological variations in the Mediterranean orange coral Astroides calycularis between two distant localities

April 9, 2013

Studies of intraspecific variation in the presence of different environmental features are essential to improving the knowledge of species population dynamics and structure. Astroides calycularis is an azooxanthellate scleractinian coral commonly found in shallow rocky habitats of the southwestern Mediterranean Sea. This study compares the fertilization period of two coral populations located in distantly separated localities; one in an upwelling area off the southern coast of the Iberian Peninsula, and the other on the southwestern coasts of Italy. Colony morphology varied between localities, the former having massive-shaped morphology with densely crowded polyps, the latter having bush-shaped morphology and separated polyps. These differences are possibly due to the different hydrodynamic conditions of their respective habitats. Gonochorism and planula brooding as sexual patterns and conditions of the coral coincide at both sites, but a delay in the timing of fertilization and planulation of the southern Iberian Peninsula population was observed, probably linked to a shift in the time at which seawater reaches its maximum temperature at each site.

Casado-Amezua P, Gasparini G, Goffredo S, in press. Phenological and morphological variations in the Mediterranean orange coral Astroides calycularis between two distant localities, Zoology, 2013, doi:10.1016/j.zool.2012.10.005. Article (subscription required)

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