[Coral-List] Coral nomenclature

Louis Florit Louis.Florit at noaa.gov
Wed Jan 28 14:45:23 EST 2004

Message forwarded from Mr. Vassil Zlatarski.  Please send comments or 
suggestions to him at vzlatarski at yahoo.com

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Posting
Date: Wed, 28 Jan 2004 11:15:33 -0800 (PST)
From: vassil zlatarski <vzlatarski at yahoo.com>

[Coral List] coral nomenclature/taxonomy Stephanocoenia

Dear Colleagues,

The Stephanocoenia nomenclature question went to taxonomy, so permit me 
to touch both areas.

The Cuban and Yucatan scleractinians offered invaluable information 
about the variability of this genus.  In the book on Cuban Scleractinia 
(1980 – Russian and 1982 – French) the taxonomic decision was based on 
underwater observations and laboratory study of 164 colonies.  Their 
variability was described and illustrated (1982: p.132-136, pl. 46, 47). 
  The Cuban material contains not only plocoid and subcerioid, but even 
cerioid (Idem. pl. 47, fig.3) colonies and many gradual transitions 
between them.  What is more intriguing is that there are colonies 
showing in their different parts more than one of these morphologies. 
For example, specimen #681, station 162, transect 6, Km.14, Matanzas, 
depth 18-20m. is both, plocoid and cerioid.  For such cases of 
intra-colonial variability was introduced the term bimorphic colony 
(1982, Chapter 3 – Variabilité et taxonomie, p. 16). On the other hand 
concerning the inter-colonial variability, the series of coralla showing 
gradual morphological transition between two taxa were called 
morphological bridges (Idem. p.18).  I am kindly offering all this 
detailed information, because the Cuban material was not only described 
and illustrated, but fortunately after three decades preserved.  One 
inventory last year showed that 80% of all collection, object of the 
mentioned book, is curated in Instituto de Oceanología, Havana.  The 
specimen #681 was present.  I agree that it is easier to approach 
typologically and identify only what is possible with the described 
species.  By doing this we operate with only part of the existing 
morphologies and use the “clear”or “good” specimens.  Unfortunately, 
many colonies do not “fit” in the “drawers” of the named taxa.  How to 
deal with them?  Closing the eyes we are ignoring the variability and 
our species recede further and further from the reality.

About the synonimization of  S. michelinii.  It was done before 1987, 
which year was mentioned previously in the Coral-List.  In the book of 
1980 and 1982 five species, including michelinii, entered in the 
synonymy of S. intersepta.

My struggle to understand a little bit better the nature of the 
scleractinian species began in 1955 with fossil corals.  Presently I am 
trying to catch up with the existing worldwide literature on coral 
species and update my notion by using a holistic approach.  It is 
exiting issue, but we have to recognize that the nomenclature and the 
taxonomy of the Caribbean scleractinians are not doing well and they are 
strongly appealing for updated studies, working with all existing 
knowledge and material, for discussions and intercolleguial efforts. 
The Coral List is good place to start.  I will be very glad to dedicate 
efforts for efficient coordinated work.

Vassil Zlatarski

131 Fales Rd,

Bristol, RI 02809, USA

Phone: +1 401 254 5121

e-mail: vzlatarski at yahoo.com

131 Fales Rd., Bristol, RI 02809, USA;  tel.: +1-401-254-5121

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