scientific article | Invertebr Syst
Wagner D, Brugler MR, Opresko DM, France SC, Montgomery AD, Toonen RJ
The commercially valuable Hawaiian black coral Antipathes grandis Verrill, 1928 is redescribed based on reexamination of the holotype from the Bernice P. Bishop Museum and field collections of 34 specimens from depths of 27–127 m. The first scanning electron micrographs of A. grandis skeletal spines are provided, along with a series of in situ colour photographs and morphometric measurements of spines and polyps. Three colour morphotypes were collected in the field (red, pale red, and white), none of which could be differentiated based on morphological or genetic characters (two mitochondrial and two nuclear markers). In situ observations are used in conjunction with morphological and genetic characters to distinguish among the commercially valuable Hawaiian black coral species A. grandis and A. griggi Opresko, 2009. A. grandis is differentiated from A. griggi by its finer and more irregular branching, smaller and more closely-spaced polyps, and conical spines that are smaller and not characterised by bifurcations towards their apex. Morphologically, the species most closely resembling A. grandis is A. caribbeana Opresko, 1996 from the Caribbean. Among analysed congenerics, DNA sequences of A. grandis were likewise most similar to those of A. caribbeana for three of the four molecular markers used in this study. A combination of low genetic variability, incomplete taxonomic sampling, and unexpected similarity between A. caribbeana and the unbranched whip coral Stichopathes cf. occidentalis (Gray, 1860), hindered our ability to determine the sister relationship of A. grandis. However, in no phylogenetic reconstruction did A. grandis group sister to its sympatric congener A. griggi.