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“Lost” coral species found “inside” another species


Described as a”cryptic“ species due to its elusiveness:

With about one-third of the world’s corals currently under threat of extinction due to climate change, Curtin researchers have made the encouraging discovery of a ‘lost’ species of coral that had been hidden for more than 50 years…

“The speciesPlesiastrea peroni was described some 200 years ago however as time went on taxonomists clumped it with Plesiastrea versipora but we have now resurrected the former species, which had been hidden for more half a century,” Juszkiewicz said.

“We trawled through 200 years of historical and modern-day literature to firstly understand the larger morphological characteristics of Plesiastrea versipora, which was first described as a single species in 1816.

“By diving on various sites around Australia and the Indo-Pacific, we collected samples, which we used to study the micromorphology and microstructure of the coral skeleton to further identify its unique intricate features.

“After carrying out genetic sequencing, we found this species of coral actually contained a second, cryptic species, which we named Plesiastrea peroni — and this is found north of the Tropic of Capricorn in Australia and across the Indo-Pacific.

“Being able to accurately identify species is paramount to quality ecological research and conservation decision-making, so this study will allow coral ecologists and biologists to know which species of Plesiastrea they are working on.”

Curtin University, “‘Lost’ coral species resurrected” at ScienceDaily (May 5, 2022)

Of course, the story raises the question of just how important saving “species” (see speciation) is. A shift in an ecology can be critical but the disappearance, reappearance, or brand new development of a hard-to-distinguish species may not have much environment impact.

Note: Sometimes species are declared extinct but turn out not to be. They are sometimes called “Lazarus species.” See, for example, Extinction (Or Maybe Not): New Scientist Offers Five “Lazarus Species” (2017).

The paper requires a fee or subscription.

Corals are amazing organisms. I have had reef aquariums for almost 30 years. In the early years, the best approach was to get the biggest aquarium you could because any fluctuation in chemistry would be slower than in a small aquarium. There are some corals that grow like weeds and others that are very difficult to keep. There are some that are very aggressive to other corals and others that can kill humans if not properly handled. They each need very specific lighting regimes, and need different flow rates. This to say, corals are uber cool.JHolo
May 14, 2022
07:48 PM

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