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Identifying AGRRA Corals: Part 3 Plates and Other Agariciids Judith Lang and Kenneth Marks Atlantic and Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment (AGRRA) Program Revision:

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Presentation on theme: "Identifying AGRRA Corals: Part 3 Plates and Other Agariciids Judith Lang and Kenneth Marks Atlantic and Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment (AGRRA) Program Revision:"— Presentation transcript:

1 Identifying AGRRA Corals: Part 3 Plates and Other Agariciids Judith Lang and Kenneth Marks Atlantic and Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment (AGRRA) Program Revision:

2 The following images are Copyright © by New World Publications and by other photographers. Permission is granted to use the photographs and slides in this presentation with the AGRRA Program and, with attribution, for other valid educational purposes.. All other uses are strictly prohibited. For images used in Part 3, our special thanks to: P. Humann, M. Nugues, D. Petersen, R. Steneck, G. van Moorsel (ecosub.nl)

3 Adapted from P.R. Kramer Colony shape – massive (= mound, columnar, heavy plates), crust, plate, branching Colony size range – small to big Colony surface – bumpy, smooth, ridged Polyp size – small to big Polyp shape – round, elliptical, irregular, Y-shaped Polyp colour – brown, tan, yellow, olive, green, red Septal shape – fat, thin; smooth, toothed Reminder: What to Look for Underwater

4 The stony corals illustrated here are limited to species found in the wider Caribbean at depths (<20 m) typical of most AGRRA surveys. The names of some of these corals are changing as a result of modern research. More taxa are added as we gain underwater photographs of species that are rare and/or of geographically limited distributions. Expect periodic updates! Photographers who can enhance this collection are encouraged to contact Judy Lang at: or For each species: ( # in m and ft) = maximum colony size Reminder: AGRRA Coral Species

5 Coding Corals in AGRRA Surveys Use the CARICOMP-based coral codes. The coral code for a genus (or occasionally a species complex) is the first 4 letters of its genus name and should be used whenever you are unsure of a coral’s species identity: AGAR = Agaricia The coral code for a species is the first letter of the genus name followed by the first 3 letters of its species name: ALAM = Agaricia lamarcki Codes are shown before names appear on the introductory slide for species that are commonly recorded in AGRRA surveys.

6 © K. Marks Agariciid Corals small polyps; meandroid colonies (polyp mouths in valleys, between ridges) Helioseris thick, wide discontinous ridges Agaricia thick, wide ridges Undaria thin, pointed ridges unifacial and platy only narrow valleys are short and/or long unifacial or bifacial platy or massive wide, shallow, long valleys wide, short valleys or individual polyps

7 Some species of Agaricia (agaricites, tenuifolia, humilis) were reclassified as species of Undaria on the basis of morphological characters. See Budd et al., 1994 (reference given on final slide). More recent molecular analyses may result in a future reversal of this designation (J. Stake, pers. comm., Sept. 2011).

8 Undaria agaricites UAGA small polyps in long rows or short reticulations pointed ridge tops tan to many shades of brown; some fluoresce pink or orange

9 Undaria agaricites UAGA examples of variation in shape: unifacial - crusts, plates, low mounds bifacial - mounds with keels or thick lobes (to ~ 1 m/3 ft)

10 Undaria agaricites UAGA many colonies may settle and grow close together

11 Undaria tenuifolia UTEN thin, vertical keels are elongate or dissected small polyps in long rows or short reticulations yellowish, grey or brown large (to ~ 4 m/12 ft)

12 Undaria tenuifolia UTEN How differs from keeled U. agaricites: much thinner keels, colonies are much larger when fully grown

13 U. agaricites U. tenuifolia UAGA UTEN Which is Which?

14 Complications! Some keeled colonies of U. agaricites closely resemble small U. tenuifolia. If unsure of species identity, code as: Undaria UNDA

15 tiny, densely packed, polyps with deep centers reticulate ridges have pointed tips yellowish to dark brown small crusts (to ~ 12 cm/5 in) Undaria humilis UHUM

16 How differs from U. agaricites: polyps are smaller, more densely packed, have deeper centers crusts don’t develop platy edges colonies are smaller when fully grown Undaria humilis UHUM

17 U. agaricites U. humilis UAGA UHUM Which is Which?

18 Complications! Some small colonies of U. agaricites closely resemble U. humilis. If unsure of species identity, code as: Undaria UNDA

19 Agaricia fragilis AFRA tiny polyps with low ridges in long rows that are sometimes contorted and have relatively few, if any, reticulations tan, yellow- to dark- brown; can have bright colours and/or polyps that lack zooxanthellae thin plates (to ~ 15 cm/6 in)

20 expanded polyps contracted polyps polyps may be sunken and appear constricted Agaricia fragilis AFRA

21 How differs from all U. humilis and U. agaricites: thicker ridges have few, if any, reticulations thinner skeletons + from platy U. agaricites: smaller polyps, and colonies are smaller when fully grown Agaricia fragilis AFRA

22 A. fragilis U. agaricites U. humilis AFRA UAGA UHUM Which is Which?

23 Agaricia lamarcki ALAM polyps with conspicuous, white mouths in long rows or shorter reticulations thick ridges with broad, rounded or somewhat pointed tops yellow- to dark- brown thick, heavy plates (to ~ 2 m/6 ft)

24 Agaricia lamarcki ALAM How differs from A. fragilis and platy U. agaricites: larger polyps thicker, denser skeletons colonies are larger when fully grown + from U. agaricites: polyp mouths more distinct

25 A. lamarcki U. agaricites ALAMUAGA Which is Which?

26 * Helioseris cucullata HCUC* *HCUC was considered a species of Leptoseris for several decades. outward-facing polyp mouths at the bases of steep, thick ridges of variable length conspicuous septa

27 Helioseris cucullata HCUC tan, yellow-brown, brown; may fluoresce greenish, blue or grey colours very thin plates (to ~ 2 m/6 ft)

28 Helioseris cucullata HCUC How differs from A. fragilis: larger polyps higher ridges + from platy U. agaricites: polyp mouths at bases of steep, thick, outward-facing ridges thinner plates partially bleached HCUC

29 H. cucullata U. agaricites HCUC UAGA Which is Which?

30 A. fragilis H. cucullata AFRA HCUC Which is Which?

31 Reference Budd, A.F., T.A. Stemann, and K.G. Johnson Stratigraphic distribution of genera and species of Neogene to Recent Caribbean reef corals. Journal of Paleontology 68:


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