Paragorgia alisonae, 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: 31-36

publication ID 10.5281/zenodo.169657

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Paragorgia alisonae

sp. nov.

Paragorgia alisonae   sp. nov.

( Figs. 17–21 View FIGURE 17 View FIGURE 18 View FIGURE 19 View FIGURE 20 View FIGURE 21 )

Material examined. Holotype: NIWA 3312, H­ 842, J 213, Z9596, 48° 01’S – 166 ° 05’E, “Otara hill”, 980 m, 27 November 1998 (col. J. Wills, FV Amatal Explorer 1171 / 25, bottom trawl).

Paratypes: NIWA 3313, P­ 1395, J 224 and NIWA 3314, P­ 1396, J 244 same as holotype locality; NIWA 3315, P­ 1397, J 211, Z9595, 48° 01’S – 166 ° 06’E, “Otara hill”, 940– 1180 m, 27 November 1998 (col. J. Wills, FV Amatal Explorer, 1171 / 24, bottom trawl); NIWA 3316, P­ 1398, J 248, Z8981, 44° 57.68 ’– 56.75 ’S – 174 ° 11.23 ’–09.56’E, south­west Chatham Rise, 1041–1052 m, 5 December 1997 (RV Tangaroa   9713 / 37, bottom trawl); NIWA 3317, P­ 1399, J 250, Z9583, 48° 02.1' S – 166 ° 06.1' E, “Doghill seamount”, 935m, 25 Nov 1998 (col. J. Wills, FV Amatal Explorer 1171 / 12, bottom trawl).

Diagnostic characters. Surface of the cortex (including calyx surface) contains highly ornate sclerites (radiate derived, like capstans), oval shaped, up to 0.09 mm in length with multiple and particular blunt lobes on the rays ( Fig. 18 View FIGURE 18 D–F, 19 D–F).

Description. Large colonies, holotype and paratypes composed of multiple fragments <200 mm in maximum length ( Fig. 17 View FIGURE 17 A–B). Some colonies (paratypes) up to a meter in height and 43 mm in diameter (e.g., Fig. 17 View FIGURE 17 C–D). Robust branches down to 3–5 mm at the slimmer parts ( Fig. 17 View FIGURE 17 B). Colonies with simple lateral branching; every major branch carrying multiple short lateral branches, as observed in most octocorals (e.g., Sánchez et al. 2004), tending upward and in one­plane, with branch tips usually ending in a bulb. Colony surface in high relief, though some colonies (paratypes) have autozooids toward one side of colony. Numerous conical, semi­closed, autozooid polyp apertures up to 4 mm in diameter with the tendency to irregularly aggregate as nodules ( Fig. 17 View FIGURE 17 ). Bright red color, white/red mixed medulla, extended polyps pale yellow. Medulla in the terminal branches with 3–8 major canals plus numerous smaller canals; subsurface also with small canals. Autozooid polyp tentacles with ovals, similar to other Paragorgia   spp., up to 0.13 mm long, regularly but not profusely ornate with smooth conical rays ( Figs. 18 View FIGURE 18 A–C, 19 A–C) and sometimes shorter and profusely ornate (e.g., Fig. 18 View FIGURE 18 B). Surface sclerites oval, highly ornate, radiate­derived, capstan­like sclerites ( Fig. 18 View FIGURE 18 D–E, 19 D–E), averaging 0.078 mm in length (0.005 SD, n= 10, NIWA 3312; 0.006 SD, n= 10, NIWA 3315). Oval surface sclerites 1.5 times longer than wide, averaging 0.05 mm in width (0.002 SD, n = 10, NIWA 3312 = 3315). Subsurface with intermediate forms to longer spindle­like sclerites ( Figs. 18 View FIGURE 18 D, 19 D). Medulla with long and slim, slightly bent but mostly straight, moderately ornate, spindles up to 0.4 mm in length ( Figs. 18 View FIGURE 18 H, 19 G).

Morphological variation. The two specimens used for the description, NIWA 3312 and 3315, are nearly identical in all characters with overall low variation probably because they came from the same locality. However, specimens NIWA 3316 – 17 from different locations comprised larger and thicker specimens, almost resembling P. arborea   colonies, Fig. (17 C–D), and with autozooid mostly located towards one side. The sclerites, although not identical to those from the specimens from the type locality, fall within the overall forms and characters for P. alisonae   sp. nov. ( Figs. 20–21 View FIGURE 20 View FIGURE 21 ).

m); D–F, radiate sclerites from the colony surface (scales 10 m) (E and F are stereo pairs); G, sclerites from the colony medulla (scales 100 m).

m); E–G, radiate sclerites from the colony surface (scales 10 m) (F and G are stereo pairs); H, sclerites from the colony medulla (scales 100 m).

Distribution. P. alisonae   is known from the type locality at 980 m depth, from The Snares, south of Stewart Island, southwest of the Chatham Rise, and Dog Hill seamount all locations in the New Zealand EEZ around 935–1180 m ( Fig. 2 View FIGURE 2 ).

Species comparisons. P. alisonae   is related to P. splendens   in many aspects but their differences are also straightforward. These two species present similar surface sclerites as well as pale yellow extended autozooid polyps, projecting from similar conical structures. However, P. alisonae   has more robust terminal branches than P. splendens   , sometimes as thick as P. arborea   . Surface sclerites, a diagnostic character, are near perfectly oval in P. alisonae   (1.5 times longer than wider) whereas in P. splendens   these are enlarged (1.7 times) with less ray ornaments. It is important to mention that under optical microscope the surface sclerites from these two species are nearly identical and SEM is highly recommended to further tell them apart.

Etymology. The species name is dedicated to my wife Alison R. Acosta­de­Sánchez.


National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research