TAXONOMIC REVIEW OF THE CORAL PORITES COLONENSIS (SCLERACTINIA: PORITIDAE) IN THE COLOMBIAN CARIBBEAN
Porites colonensis is a coral from the Caribbean Sea; colonies are foliaceous, undulated, and plate-like. Polyps are dark brown or red with small bright white or green centers; pali are present in corallites and the septal plan is bisymmetrical, conformed by three fused ventral septa, a dorsal solitary septum, and two pairs of lateral septa at each side of the dorso-ventral axis. P. colonensis is similar and can be confused with the smooth varieties of Porites astreoides and Porites branneri. There are three specimens collected from Colombia and previously identified as P. colonensis: one from Golfo de Urabá (Darién ecoregion), other from Islas del Rosario (Coralline Archipelagos ecoregion), and another from an unspecified locality, in addition to one published observation from the Golfo de Urabá without collected specimens. A recent finding of other specimens in the Tayrona National Natural Park (TNNP, Tayrona ecoregion) and the absence of a rigorous taxonomic revision for all specimens collected from Colombia showed that it was necessary to review the presence and distribution of P. colonensis in the Colombian Caribbean. A taxonomic review was done for all specimens collected from Colombia and previously identified as P. colonensis. Then, the morphologic variability of specimens that were confirmed as P. colonensis was described. Only the specimens from TNNP agreed with the holotype description of P. colonensis, while others agreed with flat varieties of P. astreoides. Thus, the presence of P. colonensis is confirmed for the first time for Colombia, but its presence in other Colombian localities outside Tayrona ecoregion could not be demonstrated. This is the only confirmed record of this species for the South American continental shelf. Furthermore, the skeletal characteristics of Colombian P. colonensis corallites showed large variability, exceeding the ranges previously described for the species.
Porites colonensis; Biogeographical range; Coral taxonomy; Morphological variability; Tayrona Park
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