Do you think you can tell the difference between your Porites compressa and Porites lobata? If your answer is yes then guess again. New research from Zac Forsman and his research crew looked at genetic markers to see how coral morphology was related to coral taxonomy in Porites. What Zac et al. found was that although many corals can look quite distinct when looking at the coral colony’s overall shape, coral morphology is not a reliable indicator of what defines a coral species. Even when corals are examined very closely at the microscopic level, coral shape is so plastic that the way a coral looks is simply not enough to tell what species it is. So the next time you see that know it all who has a specific latin name for every coral they see, you go right ahead and tell ’em that since scientists are uncertain about what really constitutes a coral species, there’s no way to tell for certain what the species of many given corals. Unless we’re talking about Bazooka Joes and Gorilla Nipples, even a child could tell you the Dr. Seuss names of aquarium corals. For more on this story visit the abstract of the paper.
Jake Adams has been an avid marine aquarist since the mid 90s and has worked in the retail side of the marine aquarium trade for more than ten years. He has a bachelor’s degree in Marine Science and has been the managing editor of ReefBuilders.com since 2008. Jake is interested in every facet of the marine aquarium hobby from the concepts to the technology, rare fish to exotic corals, and his interests are well documented through a very prolific career of speaking to reef clubs and marine aquarium events, and writing articles for aquarium publications across the globe. His primary interest is in corals which Jake pursues in the aquarium hobby as well as diving the coral reefs of the world.