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This is the new coral species living on the ceilings of caves in tropical coral reefs. Credit: Dr. Bert W. Hoeksema / Naturalis

From EurekAlert!:

A new cave-dwelling reef coral discovered in the Indo-Pacific

Coral named Leptoseris troglodyta sheds light on coral-algal symbiosis

Coral specialist Dr. Bert W. Hoeksema of Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden, The Netherlands, recently published the description of a new coral species that lives on the ceilings of caves in Indo-Pacific coral reefs. It differs from its closest relatives by its small polyp size and by the absence of symbiotic algae, so-called zooxanthellae. Its distribution range overlaps with the Coral Triangle, an area that is famous for its high marine species richness. Marine zoologists of Naturalis visit this area frequently to explore its marine biodiversity.

Reef corals in shallow tropical seas normally need the symbiotic algae for their survival and growth. Without these algae, many coral reefs would not exist. During periods of elevated seawater temperature, most reef corals lose their algae, which is visible…

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