[Coral-List] Coral nomenclature

Judith Lang/Lynton Land JandL at rivnet.net
Wed Jan 28 15:39:47 EST 2004

Thanks to Dr. Vassil Zlatarski for his contribution to this discussion.

For those of us behind the scenes who have been saying it is time for a 
bright student to reconsider Stephanocoenia with skeletal 
morphometrics, molecules, soft tissues and ecology (including 
transplantations), etc., this is a good reminder to remember to include 
the "intermediates."


On Jan 28, 2004, at 2:45 PM, Louis Florit wrote:

> 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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