[Coral-List] Scolymia wellsi and S. cubensis

Judith Lang jlang at riposi.net
Tue Feb 26 09:40:37 EST 2013

Dear colleagues,
A new classification system is emerging for scleractinian corals that integrates molecular data and skeletal morphology. The AGRRA collection of slides for identifying living corals is currently being revised, in part to accommodate changes introduced by Budd et al. (2012)* in the names of some common genera inhabiting the wider Caribbean. 

Budd et al. (2012)'s morphological data also substantiate earlier descriptions of a significant difference between Scolymia wellsi  and S. cubensis.  (The septal teeth of S. wellsi are irregular and can fuse to form very porous septa whereas S. cubensis has long, slender, awl-shaped teeth.) 

Thus I am keen to learn if anyone can tell us how to distinguish between these two species in life! Are the differences in septal dentation visible underwater, or do they correlate with the colour patterns or other characteristics of the living tissues?  I would be happy to share our images of small, brightly coloured Scolymia with anyone who might be able to help us resolve this conundrum!

Many thanks,
Judy Lang
AGRRA Scientific Coordinator

*Budd, A.F., H. Fukami, N.D. Smith and N. Knowlton. 2012. Taxonomic classification of the reef coral family Mussidae (Cnidaria: Anthozoa: Scleractinia). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 166: 465-529.

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