[Coral-List] Scolymia wellsi and S. cubensis

vassil zlatarski vzlatarski at yahoo.com
Thu Feb 28 11:37:46 EST 2013

Dear colleagues,

The taxonomic difficulties with Scolymia continue more than three decades.  The corallum morphological differences between Scolymia. wellsi and S. cubensis are well noted many years ago but also is known long time ago that they are morphologically not discrete.  Working with few coralla is easier to apply species name.  However, the problem appears when are collected more specimens, because series of coralla trace characters' continuum by showing gradual intermediate morphological bridge between them. The paper of 2012 referred in the previous email disregards the data concerning S. cubensis and S. wellsi published in 1982 [1] and this way ignores 165 coralla to become vouchers for the real diversity.  Not to mention that the collection is well preserved and is available in a multimedia.  Kindly note that same referred paper of 2012  (p. 514) states that in the monograph of 1982 [1] was "synonymized Scolymia lacera (Pallas) with Mussa angulosa
 (Pallas)", which is not true, as well that another recent paper [2] declares that Porites colonensis is "extant Eastern Pacific species" (p. 270).  Hope this could be helpful.



[1]  Zlatarski, V. N. & N. Martines Estalella. 1982. Les Scléractiniares de Cuba avec des données sur la
organismes associés. Edit. Académie bulgare des Sciences, Sofia, 472 p., annexe
 [2]  Johnson, K. G., A. F. Budd, J. S. Klaus & D. F. McNeil. 2008. The Impact of Fossils from the Northern Dominican Republic on Origination Estimates for Miocene and Pliocene Caribbean Reef Corals. In: Nehm, R. H. & A. F. Budd (eds.) Evolutionary Stasis and Change in the Dominican Republic Neogene. Springer, 253-280.

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

 From: Judith Lang <jlang at riposi.net>
To: "coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov list" <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov> 
Sent: Tuesday, February 26, 2013 9:40 AM
Subject: [Coral-List] Scolymia wellsi and S. cubensis
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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