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Lamarck, 1816

Virgularia sp. 4 (2)

Type species: Virgularia mirabilis (Linnaeus, 1758)

Total number of species estimated: 4

Description: Colonies long, slender, often vermiform, or stout to robust. Bilateral symmetry throughout length of rachis. axis extends throughout most of the length of the colony, sometimes beyond the apex of the rachis, mostly round in cross-section. Polyp leaves present, relatively short, composed of tubular autozooids that are fused to adjacent autozooids for most of their length. Autozooids vary from three to over one hundred autozooids per leaf. Anthocodiae retractile into bulbous basal portions of autozooids, thus forming fleshy calyx-like structures, which are all equal in size. Siphonozooids distributed mostly on the rachis between the polyp leaves. Sclerites absent or reduced to minute ovals in the interior of the peduncle. At least one unidentified species from Papua New Guinea is diurnal and known to harber zooxanthellae.

Habitat: Sandy flats and slopes adjacent to reef, also in deeper water.

Range: Widespread distribution: Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans; 0-1100 meters in depth. The highest diversity of species is in the Indo-Pacific.

Ecology: Most shallow-water species are nocturnal, emerging above the surface of the sandy areas at dusk. Bioluminescense has been reported in Virgularia mirabilis .

Additional remarks: The genus is in need of taxonomic revision.

Genus Virgularia