Marine Biology

, Volume 151, Issue 6, pp 2195–2206 | Cite as

Tale of two colors: Cladopsammia gracilis (Dendrophylliidae) color morphs distinguished also by their genetics and ecology

  • N. Hizi-Degany
  • E. Meroz-Fine
  • S. Shefer
  • M. IlanEmail author
Research Article


Cladopsammia gracilis (Dendrophylliidae), an ahermatypic coral inhabits the northern Red Sea. Two color morphs (pink and orange) are found aggregated in caves devoid of hermatypic corals, associated with crustose coralline algae (CCA). Sequencing the rDNA ITS region revealed a separate clustering of members of each color morph. Both morphs grow in shallow waters, with orange corals limited to the upper 4 m, while some pink coral aggregates thrive deeper than 30 m. Planulae were released between June and December. Pink planulae treated with antibiotics and exposed at different intervals to CCA, were competent and metamorphosed even 110 days after release. Maximal competency period for orange planulae was 70 days. All planulae were enhanced to metamorphose in presence of CCA. The mean age at metamorphosis of pink and orange planulae treated with CCA differed significantly. Most orange planulae settled directly on the CCA while most pink planulae settled on the wall of the experiment vial. The morphs differed significantly in the calyx cross-section area of primary polyps. Despite being considered a single species according to skeletal based taxonomy, the significant ecological and molecular differences between pink and orange C. gracilis specimens suggest that they may belong to separate species.


Maximum Parsimony Color Morph Belt Transect Hermatypic Coral Settlement Orientation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We thank Steve Cairns for his help in identifying C. gracilis species. The manuscript benefited from the input given by K. Miller, Y. Nozawa, P. Raimondi, M.J.H. van Oppen and J. Wilson who also shared with us unpublished data. We are also grateful for the assistance and fruitful suggestions of B. Rinkevich, A. Abelson, and especially Y. Barki and M. Fine. The manuscript was much improved by valuable comments made by two reviewers. We acknowledge A. Shoob’s photography, and O. Gillor for underwater assistance and friendship. D. Huchon-Pupko is appreciated for her great help with the phylogenetic analysis. The technical assistance of the staff of the interuniverity institute, Elat, is acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • N. Hizi-Degany
    • 1
  • E. Meroz-Fine
    • 1
  • S. Shefer
    • 1
  • M. Ilan
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyTel Aviv UniversityTel AvivIsrael

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