Bahamas Paper 485

Bahamas Paper 485 - Millepora 1 Ecological and Genetic...

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Millepora 1 Ecological and Genetic Analysis of Millepora Morphotypes in San Salvador, Bahamas Jessica Allison, A.G., Avi Kolel, Michelle Mariorenzi BIO/BMB 485 – February 2008 Cornell College
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Millepora 2 Introduction Millepora is a calcifying hydrozoan that is highly variable in form. It can occur as encrusting, plates, lace-like fans, and branching forms (Stearn and Riding, 1973). There have been numerous attempts to classify the Millepora. Duchassaing and Michelotti (1864) described and listed 22 forms of Millepora in the Caribbean based on morphology. Variability in colony morphology in Millepora may be a phenotypic response to environmental changes (phenotypic plasticity) (deWeerdt, 1981). The two Millepora species ( M. complanata and M. alcicornis- See Figure 1) examined in this study in Curacao and Bonaire, vary across different environments. DeWeerdt (1981) found that the bladed form ( M. complanata- Figure 1a) was found about 2m to 12m in depth, while the branched form ( M. alcicornis- Figure 1b) was found at the greatest depth range (3-45m). He concluded that environmental conditions such as wave action or depth have been shown to affect morphological variation. When observing the corals found in various biotopes, deWeerdt (1981) found that the bladed form was found more frequently in an environment with strong water movement and strong current, whereas the coarse branching was prevalent in an environment with moderate water movement where current was absent. The M. complanata is sturdier and can withstand the waves, whereas the delicate branches of M. alcicornis would be better suited for calmer, deeper waters. Hickson (1898) suggested that all forms of the coral could be described as different growth forms of a single species, M. alcicornis. The current classification of Millepora (Boschma, 1948) describes ten species of Millepora, three in the Atlantic Ocean and seven from the Pacific and Indian Oceans. The distinguishing feature for determining species in all the classification systems was the form of the coral. DeWeerdt (1981) concluded that the branching forms generally grow in deeper water and that the plate forms are more prevalent in the shallow,
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Millepora 3 rougher waters. The idea that these corals may be more prevalent at certain depths caused us to further examine the environment in which the corals were growing. The varying topography of the reefs added a new level of environmental complexity with regards to the exposure of the coral to water movement - microhabitat. Previous research performed by Cornell College students has shown problems involving the classification of Millepora corals solely based on their morphology alone (Black & Tepper, unpublished). We have observed what appears to be an intermediate form of Millepora complanata and Millepora alcicornis. These intermediate forms exhibit features of both species of Millepora and show no specificity of habitat location. We have observed many corals on these reefs that are not classifiable because they display morphologies of both species causing
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Bahamas Paper 485 - Millepora 1 Ecological and Genetic...

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