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Image of Cauliflower coral

Cauliflower Coral

Pocillopora verrucosa (Ellis & Solander 1786)

Pocillopora verrucosa

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Pocillopora verrucosa, commonly known as cauliflower coral, rasp coral, or knob-horned coral, is a species of stony coral in the family Pocilloporidae. It is native to tropical and subtropical parts of the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

Description

Pocillopora verrucosa is a colonial coral and grows into hemispherical clumps up to 30 cm (12 in) in diameter.[1] The branches are 1 to 2 cm (0.4 to 0.8 in) thick and usually have clubbed tips. The surface is covered with large verrucae (wart-like growths) up to 6 mm (0.24 in) high and the corallites (the stony cups from which the polyps emerge) are 1 mm (0.04 in) in diameter. The colour of this coral varies and it may be yellowish-green, pink, brown or bluish-brown. It differs from Pocillopora damicornis in having broader, somewhat flattened, club-tipped branches and by the fact that its verrucae are more evenly sized and spaced.[2]

Distribution and habitat

Pocillopora verrucosa is native to the tropical and subtropical parts of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Its wide range extends from East Africa and the Red Sea to Japan, Indonesia, Australia, Hawaii, Easter Island and the western coast of Central America. It is found at depths down to about 54 m (177 ft) but is most common between 1 and 15 m (3 ft 3 in and 49 ft 3 in).[1] It is a common species in most of its range and is found on fringing reefs and moderately-exposed reef fronts but is less tolerant than P. damicornis of sediment and is therefore less common in lagoons.[2]

Biology

Pocillopora verrucosa, like many corals, contains microscopic symbiotic dinoflagellate algae (zooxanthellae) living within its tissues. Through photosynthesis, these algae produce energy-rich molecules that the coral can assimilate. It has been found that these algae are already present in the eggs before spawning.[3]

Pocillopora verrucosa can reproduce by fragmentation, a form of asexual reproduction.[1] It is also a simultaneous hermaphrodite but its reproductive method varies across its range. Each polyp usually contains twelve gonads, the six nearest the mouth being ovaries and the other six spermaries. In South Africa the gametes are released simultaneously from both of these and spawning takes place at new moon in January (mid-summer) with the gametes being liberated into the water column.[4] However, at Enewetak Atoll in the Marshall Islands, this species has been shown to fertilise the eggs internally and brood the developing planula larvae.[5]

Ecology

A number of predators feed on this coral. These include pufferfishes, parrotfishes and filefishes which feed on the tips of the branches and hermit crabs which scrape the skeletal tissue. Other animals feed on the soft tissues while leaving the skeleton intact including the butterflyfishes, the angelfishes and the damselfish, Stegastes acapulcoensis. Invertebrates which feed on this coral are the crown-of-thorns starfish (Acanthaster planci), Jenner's cowry (Jenneria pustulata), the sea urchin, Eucidaris galapagensis and the coral snails, Coralliophila spp.. Both the starfish and the cowry can kill a mature coral colony by stripping off the living tissue.[1]

Pocillopora spp. have several mutualistic symbionts including the crab, Trapezia sp., and certain snapping shrimps which protect it from attack by its major predator, the crown-of-thorns starfish.[1]

Status

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Pocillopora verrucosa skeleton

In general coral reefs around the world are being destroyed and although this coral is common and relatively resilient, it is likely that populations are in decline along with their habitat. The main threats are climate change, ocean acidification, bleaching and coral diseases. The IUCN has listed Pocillopora verrucosa as being of "Least Concern" as it considers that the rate of decline in its populations is not sufficient to justify listing it in a more threatened category. Like all corals, it is listed on CITES Appendix II.[1]

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Hoeksema, B.; Rogers, A.; Quibilan, M. (2008). "Pocillopora verrucosa". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2008. Retrieved 2014-01-07.old-form url
  2. ^ a b c van der Land, Jacob (2018). "Pocillopora verrucosa (Ellis & Solander, 1786)". WoRMS. World Register of Marine Species. Retrieved 2018-08-18.
  3. ^ Hirose, M.; Kinzie, R. A.; Hidaka, M. (2000). "Early development of zooxanthella-containing eggs of the corals Pocillopora verrucosa and P. eydouxi with special reference to the distribution of zooxanthellae". Biological Bulletin. 199 (1): 68–75. doi:10.2307/1542708.
  4. ^ Kruger, A.; Schleyer, M. H. (1998). "Sexual reproduction in the coral Pocillopora verrucosa (Cnidaria: Scleractinia) in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa". Marine Biology. 132 (4): 703–710. doi:10.1007/s002270050434.
  5. ^ Sier, C. J. S.; Olive, P. J. W. (1994). "Reproduction and reproductive variability in the coral Pocillopora verrucosa from the Republic of Maldives". Marine Biology. 118 (4): 713–720. doi:10.1007/BF00347520.
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Pocillopora verrucosa: Brief Summary

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Pocillopora verrucosa, commonly known as cauliflower coral, rasp coral, or knob-horned coral, is a species of stony coral in the family Pocilloporidae. It is native to tropical and subtropical parts of the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

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Biology

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zooxanthellate
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bibliographic citation
Veron, J. E. N. (1986). Corals of Australia and the Indo-Pacific. <em>Angus & Robertson Publishers.</em> Veron, J. E. N. (1986). Corals of Australia and the Indo-Pacific. <em>Angus & Robertson Publishers.</em> van der Land, J. (ed). (2008). UNESCO-IOC Register of Marine Organisms (URMO).
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Jacob van der Land [email]

Description

provided by World Register of Marine Species
This species is distinguished from Pocillopora damicornis by having broader, club shaped or more flattened branches. It has true verrucae which are evenly sized and spaced. Pocillopora verrucosa occurs between the surface to 40 m deep. On fore reef slopes of moderate but not extreme exposure, it is extremely common, and helps to define clear coral communities in many sites. It is less tolerant of sedimented conditions than is P. damicornis so is much less abundant in lagoonal areas (Sheppard, 1998). Colonies are composed of uniform upright branches clearly distinct from the verrucae, but the latter are irregular in size. They have permanently coloured red-brown stalks. Colour: Usually cream, pink or blue. Abundance: Common. Occurs in most shallow-water environments from fringing reefs to exposed reef fronts (Veron, 1986). Colonies usually form hemispheres and grow in isolation. The stout branches (1-2 cm thick) radiate from a central holdfast and tend to be clubbed at their tips. Large verrucae up to 6 mm high, corallites 1 mm across. Colour: varies from pale lime-green or pink to dark brown or bluish-brown. Habitat: shallow reef areas (Richmond, 1997); rocks (Kalk, 1959). Also distributed in Australia (Kalk, 1958). Tropical Indo-Pacific in Kalk (1958).
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cc-by-4.0
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WoRMS Editorial Board
bibliographic citation
Veron, J. E. N. (1986). Corals of Australia and the Indo-Pacific. <em>Angus & Robertson Publishers.</em> Veron, J. E. N. (1986). Corals of Australia and the Indo-Pacific. <em>Angus & Robertson Publishers.</em> van der Land, J. (ed). (2008). UNESCO-IOC Register of Marine Organisms (URMO).
Contributor
Edward Vanden Berghe [email]