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Fused staghorn coral
Acropora prolifera
(Lamarck, 1816)

Description:
Colony branched, but the branches fused at crossings or parallel branches sometimes fused at considerable distance. Tips of branches with strong axial corallites; radial corallites orientated upwards, in rows. Colony up to 1.2 meter; branch diameter between 0.5 and 2 cm.

Color:
Brown to yellow-brown, with a white axial corallite.

Corallites:
Corallites are porous protruding tubes, less than 5 mm long, and 0.8-1.0 mm in diameter. They are densely packed, with 2-3 mm in between. A columella is absent.

Habitat:
Occurring well below the surface, but not deeper than about 10 meters. In shallow water only in quiet bays and the lee side of islands. Generally not in inner bays.

Distribution:
Uncommon South Florida, Bahamas and Caribbean.

Remarks:
Recent DNA sequence analyses suggested that Acropora prolifera is a hybrid between Acropora cervicornis and Acropora palmata , which backcrosses with the parental species at low frequency.

Fused staghorn coral (Acropora prolifera)