Coral-mimicking corallimorpharians on the reefs of Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
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KeywordsSmall Group Coral Reef Malaysia Growth Form Color Pattern
Corallimorpharians form a small group of anthozoans that are closely related to scleractinian corals. They may form aggregations resulting from asexual reproduction and are either azooxanthellate or zooxanthellate. Among the latter are reef-dwelling species of the Discosomatidae, which have small or absent tentacles. They are not easily identified, and several species are probably undescribed (Den Hartog 1997).
In scleractinians, the radial stripes reflect the position of septa, which are lacking in Discosoma. Soft-bodied non-scleractinian anthozoan species looking similar to stony corals are also known among sea anemones (Hoeksema and Crowther 2011). Without further evidence, it is uncertain whether this likeness helps the corallimorpharians to be inconspicuous to potential prey or to avoid predation, as in Müllerian mimicry (Ruxton et al. 2004).
Research permission was granted by Sabah Parks and the Economic Planning Unit, Malaysia. We thank Prof. Dr. Ridzwan Abdul Rahman of the Borneo Marine Research Institute and the boat crew of Universiti Malaysia Sabah for support during the fieldwork.
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