Taxonomy

Within the Anthozoa and Hydrozoan classes of the Phylum Cnidaria, cold-water corals are grouped as Stony (scleractinian), Black (Antipatharian) and Zoanthid corals (Cairns, 2001). Of those mentioned, only scleractinian species are constructional species (Schuhmacher and Zibrowius, 1985) and are commonly referred to as “reef framework-forming” corals (Roberts et al., 2009). Black and gorgonian species form smaller, non constructional assemblages (Roberts et al., 2006). Over 600 species of ahermatypic scleractinians can be found below 50 m depths and only 17 of these are constructional corals, forming deep-water reefs (Roberts et al., 2009). The most common reef-forming scleractinians are Lophelia pertusa (Fig.1a), Solenosmilia variablis (Fig1.b);  Madrepora oculata (Fig.1c), Oculina varicosa (Fig.1.d); Goniocorella dumosa (Fig.1e) and Enallopsammia profunda (Fig.1f) (Roberts et al., 2009).

Fig.1. Scleratinian coral species. Images courtesy of NURC/UNCW, NOAA/FGBNMS and S. Cairns.


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