Paragorgia aotearoa, JUAN ARMANDO SÁNCHEZ, 2005

JUAN ARMANDO SÁNCHEZ, 2005, Systematics of the bubblegum corals (Cnidaria: Octocorallia: Paragorgiidae) with description of new species from New Zealand and the Eastern Pacific, Zootaxa 1014, pp. 1-72: 44-47

publication ID 10.5281/zenodo.169657

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Paragorgia aotearoa

sp. nov.

Paragorgia aotearoa   sp. nov.

( Figs. 28–29 View FIGURE 28 View FIGURE 29 )

Material examined. Holotype: NIWA 3325, H­ 845, J206, 42° 50.26 ’– 42 ° 49.99 ’S, 176 ° 54.96 ’– 176 ° 55.17 ’W, “Mt Muck seamount” 700–900 m, August 1996, (RV Tangaroa   9609 / 40, bottom trawl, col. D. Tracey).

Diagnostic characters. Medulla with ornate but smooth and blunt spindles usually less than 0.3 mm in length. Surface of the cortex, including autozooid aperture, with comparatively (among Paragorgia   spp.) large 8 ­radiate sclerites up to 0.09 mm.

Description. Profusely branching colonies up to 230 mm in length (holotype) with terminal branches down to 3–4 mm in diameter ( Fig. 28 View FIGURE 28 A). Numerous short, lateral branches arise from the main branches with an irregular but clavate appearance ( Fig. 28 View FIGURE 28 A). Autozooid (and siphonozooid) polyps located towards one side of the colony ( Fig. 28 View FIGURE 28 B) whereas the other side has only siphonozooids ( Fig. 28 View FIGURE 28 C). There is a regular trend for the autozooids to form clumps, but many autozooids are several millimeters apart from each other. Cortex red and thick (~> 0.5 mm) containing siphonozooids fairly uniformly­distributed ~ 0.5 mm apart. Medulla perforated by 3–4 main axial canals at terminal branches, usually surrounded by red sclerites. Autozooid polyp tentacles with blunt ovals, slightly thicker than in most Paragorgia   spp., up to 0.1 mm in length and 0.5 mm width, regularly and profusely ornate with conical tubercles ( Fig. 29 View FIGURE 29 A–C). Surface of the cortex, including autozooid aperture, with comparatively (among Paragorgia   spp.) large 7 ­ to 8 ­radiate sclerites up to 0.09 mm averaging 0.076 mm in length (0.008 SD, n= 10) ( Fig. 29 View FIGURE 29 D–F). Rays nearly symmetrical with smooth surfaces but occasional lobulated ( Fig. 29 View FIGURE 29 D–F). Surface radiates between 1.65 times longer than wider, averaging 0.04 mm in width (0.004 SD, n= 10). Medulla with ornate (red and colorless) but smooth and blunt spindles up to 0.33 mm in length averaging 0.28 mm (0.03 SD, n= 10) ( Fig. 29 View FIGURE 29 G). Holotype with a commensal white anemone.

Morphological variation. Unfortunately, it is not possible to make specimen comparisons since only one specimen of P. aotearoa   sp. nov. was available. Overall, intracolonial variation of sclerites and other features is very low, with rather low variation in surface radiates: a character where most of the variation in form is present in Paragorgia   spp.

Distribution. Only known for the type location, Chatham Rise between the New Zealand’s North Island and the Chatham islands.

Species comparisons. Some features of P. aotearoa   closely resemble P. johnsoni Gray   and P. re g a l i s Nutting. For instance, the sclerites from the cortex surface are chiefly 8 ­radiates with smooth but slightly lobate radial ornamentation ( Figs. 17 View FIGURE 17 D–F; 18 B) (see also Bayer, 1956: Fig. 1 View FIGURE 1 ). However, the diagnostic character of P. aotearoa   , short medullar sclerites up to 0.3 mm, are surpassed by P. regalis   with spindles up to 0.4 mm ( Fig. 27 View FIGURE 27 C). In addition, P. re g a l i s colonies are salmon pink (Bayer, 1956; pers. obs.) with larger branches and polyps (autozooids/siphonozooid) (e.g., Fig. 13 View FIGURE 13 ). The surface sclerites of P. aotearoa   are very similar in shape to the surface sclerites of P. johnsoni   ( Fig. 10 View FIGURE 10 C–F). However, P. aotearoa   sclerites are clearly larger than those of P. johnsoni   (0.08 vs 0.05 mm in average respectively); in fact, P. aotearoa   has the largest surface sclerites in all species of Paragorgia   . Autozooid polyp sclerites of P. johnsoni   also differ from those of P.

aotearoa   in the irregular ornamentation. Nonetheless, the phylogenetic affinity between P. regalis   , P. johnsoni   , and P. aotearoa   is clear.

Etymology. The word Aotearoa   means in Maori, “the land of the long white cloud” as the first Maori settlers called what is today known as New Zealand.


National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research