, Volume 136, Issue 3, pp 287–297 | Cite as

Morphological variability of the “Caribbean hidden anemone” Lebrunia coralligens (Wilson, 1890)

  • Ricardo González-MuñozEmail author
  • Agustín Garese
  • José Luis Tello-Musi
  • Fabián H. Acuña
Original paper


Lebrunia coralligens is among the most common sea anemone species found inhabiting in coral reefs environments along the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico. This species exhibit two distinct morphotypes characterized mainly by differences in the location of vesicles on its pseudotentacles. The morphology and cnidae size ranges between representatives of the two morphotypes, as well as with those from specimens of its congeners Lebrunia neglecta, were compared to identify taxonomic distinctions that would enable separation of the morphotypes into different species. Statistical variability in specimens and cnidae size ranges was found between the two morphotypes, but a greater variability was found when compared with cnidae size ranges of L. neglecta. These results suggest that pseudotentacular form and cnidae size differences are due to broad phenotypic plasticity within L. coralligens. In addition, results also suggest that quantitative comparisons of cnidae could reinforce the taxonomic distinction of closely related species as L. coralligens and L. neglecta.


Actiniaria Intraspecific variation Cnidocysts Morphotypes Coral reefs 



The first author is grateful to the Programa de Becas Postdoctorales of the Comisión Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (CONACyT, Grant 232318). All specimens were collected under consent of Mexican law, collecting permit approved by Comisión Nacional de Acuacultura y Pesca (Number 07332.250810.4060). We thank the Comisión Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas (CONANP) and the staff at the Parque Nacional Arrecifes de Puerto Morelos and the Sistema Arrecifal Veracruzano for their helpful assistance during field work. Dr. Horacio Pérez-España (Instituto de Ciencias Marinas y Pesquerías de la Universidad Veracruzana), and Dr. Nuno Simões Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México in Sisal (UNAM-Sisal) provided support for field work; M.S. Maribel Badillo-Alemán (UNAM-Sisal) provided access and support to histological facilities; M.S. Gemma Martínez-Moreno and Dr. Patricia Guadarrama-Chávez (UNAM-Sisal) helped with lab work and provided support in the microscopy lab; M.S. Alfredo Gallardo-Torres (UNAM-Sisal), B.S. Alejandro Córdova (UNAM-FES-I) helped in the field; and Carlos Hernández (Universidad de Oriente, Venezuela) for its valuable comments. Comments of two anonymous referees improved this manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


  1. Acuña FH, Garese A (2009) The cnidae of the acrospheres of the corallimorpharian Corynactis carnea (Studer, 1878) (Cnidaria, Corallimorpharia, Corallimorphidae): composition, abundance and biometry. Belgian. J Zool 139:50–57Google Scholar
  2. Acuña FH, Excoffon AC, Zamponi MO, Ricci L (2003) Importance of nematocysts in taxonomy of Acontiarian Sea Anemones (Cnidaria, Actiniaria): a statistical comparative study. Zool Anz 242:75–81. doi: 10.1078/0044-5231-00088
  3. Acuña FH, Ricci L, Excoffon AC, Zamponi MO (2004) A novel statistical analysis of cnidocysts in acontiarian sea anemones (Cnidaria, Actiniaria) using generalized linear models with gamma errors. Zool Anz 243:47–52. doi: 10.1016/j.jcz.2004.06.002
  4. Addamo AM, Martínez-Baraldés I, Vertino A, López-González PJ, Taviani M, Machordom A (2015) Morphological polymorphism of Desmophyllum dianthus (Anthozoa: Hexacorallia) over a wide ecological and biogeographic range: stability in deep habitats? Zool Anz 259:113–130. doi: 10.1016/j.jcz.2015.10.004
  5. Allcock AL, Watts PC, Thorpe JP (1998) Divergence of nematocysts in two colour morphs of the intertidal beadlet anemone Actinia equina. J Mar Biol Assoc United Kingdom 78:821–828 doi: 10.1017/S0025315400044805 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Anderson MJ (2001) A new method for non-parametric multivariate analysis of variance. Austral Ecol 26:32–46. doi: 10.1111/j.1442-9993.2001.01070.pp.x Google Scholar
  7. Carlgren O (1949) A survey of the Ptychodactiaria, Corallimorpharia and Actiniaria. K Sven Vetenskapsakademiens Handl 1:1–121Google Scholar
  8. Crowther A (2013) Character evolution in light of phylogenetic analysis and taxonomic revision of the zooxanthellate sea anemone families Thalassianthidae and Aliciidae. Dissertation, University of KansasGoogle Scholar
  9. Daly M, Gusmão LC, Reft AJ, Rodríguez E (2010) Phylogenetic signal in mitochondrial and nuclear markers in sea anemones (Cnidaria, Actiniaria). Integr Compar Biol 50(3):371–388. doi: 10.1093/icb/icq081
  10. Duchassaing de Fonbressin P, Michelotti G (1860) Mémoire sur les Coralliaires des Antilles. Imprimerie Royale, TurinGoogle Scholar
  11. Duerden JE (1895) On the genus “Alicia (Cladactis)”, with an anatomical description of “A. costae”, Panc. Ann Mag Nat History 15(87):218–218CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Estrada-Flores E, Peralta L, Rivas P (1982) Manual de Técnicas Histológicas. AGT-México, Distrito FederalGoogle Scholar
  13. Fautin DG (1988) Importance of nematocysts to actinian taxonomy. In: Hessinger DA, Lenhoff HM (eds) The biology of nematocysts. Academic Press, Inc., San Diego, pp 487–500CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Fautin DG (2009) Structural diversity, systematics, and evolution of cnidae. Toxicon 54(8):1054–1064. doi: 10.1016/j.toxicon.2009.02.024 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Fautin DG (2013) Hexacorallians of the world Accessed 26 Dec 2016
  16. Garese A, Carrizo S, Acuña FH (2016) Biometry of sea anemone and corallimorpharian cnidae: statistical distribution and suitable tools for analysis. Zoomorphology. doi: 10.1007/s00435-016-0319-6 Google Scholar
  17. González-Muñoz R, Simões N, Sanchez-Rodríguez J, Rodríguez E, Segura-Puertas L (2012) First inventory of sea anemones (Cnidaria: Actiniaria) of the Mexican Caribbean. Zootaxa 3556:1–38Google Scholar
  18. González-Muñoz R, Simões N, Tello-Musi JL, Rodríguez E (2013) Sea anemones (Cnidaria, Anthozoa, Actiniaria) from coral reefs in the southern Gulf of Mexico. Zookeys 106:77–106. doi: 10.3897/zookeys.341.5816
  19. González-Muñoz R, Simões N, Mascaró M, Tello-Musi JL, Brugler MR, Rodríguez E (2015) Morphological and molecular variability of the sea anemone Phymanthus crucifer (Cnidaria, Anthozoa, Actiniaria, Actinoidea). J Mar Biol Assoc United Kingdom 95:69–79. doi: 10.1017/S0025315414000988 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. González-Muñoz R, Simões N, Guerra-Castro E, Hernández-Ortíz C, Carrasquel G, Mendez E, Lira C, Rada M, Hernández I, Pauls SM, Croquer A, Cruz-Motta JJ (2016) Sea anemones (Cnidaria: Actiniaria, Corallimorpharia, Ceriantharia, Zoanthidea) from marine shallow-water environments in Venezuela: new records and an updated inventory. Marine Biodiversity Records 9:18. doi: 10.1186/s41200-016-0016-7
  21. Hellberg ME (2006) No variation and low synonymous substitution rates in coral mtDNA despite high nuclear variation. BMC Evol Biol 6:24. doi: 10.1186/1471-2148-6-24 CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  22. Klunzinger CB (1877) Die Korallthiere des Rothen Meeres. 1: Die Alcyonarien und Malacodermen. Gutmann’schen Buchhandlung, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  23. Kwietniewski CR (1897) Ein Beitrag zur Anatomie und Systematik der Actiniarien. Universitaet Jena, JenaGoogle Scholar
  24. Manchenko GP, Dautova TN, Latypov YY (2000) High level of genetic divergence between sympatric color morphs of the littoral sea anemone Anthopleura orientalis (Anthozoa: Actiniaria). Biochem Syst Ecol 28:737–750. doi: 10.1016/S0305-1978(99)00120-9
  25. Martínez-Baraldés I, López-González PJ, Megina C (2014) Application of cnidae composition in phylogenetic analyses of North Atlantic and Mediterranean dendrophylliid corals (Anthozoa: Scleractinia). Invertebr Syst 28:214–230. doi: 10.1071/IS13036
  26. McArdle BH, Anderson MJ (2001) Fitting multivariate models to community data: a comment on distance-based redundancy analysis. Ecology 82:290–297. doi: 10.2307/2680104 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Östman C (2000) A guideline to nematocyst nomenclature and classification, and some notes on the systematic value of nematocysts. Scietia Marina 64(1):31–46. doi: 10.3989/scimar.2000.64s131
  28. R Development Core Team (2008) R: A language and environment for statistical computing. R Found Stat Comput Vienna, Austria. Accessed 26 Dec 2016
  29. Watts PC, Thorpe JP (1998) Phenotypic identification of three genetically differentiated morphs of the intertidal beadlet anemone Actinia equina (Anthozoa: Cnidaria). J Mar Biol Assoc United Kingdom 78:1365–1368. doi: 10.1017/S0025315400044556 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Watts PC, Allcock AL, Lynch SM, Thorpe JP (2000) An analysis of the nematocysts of the beadlet anemone Actinia equina and the green sea anemone Actinia prasina. J Mar Biol Assoc United Kingdom 80:719–724. doi: 10.1017/S002531540000254X CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Williams RB (1996) Measurements of cnidae from sea anemones (Cnidaria: Actiniaria): statistical parameters and taxonomic relevance. Sci Mar 60:339–351Google Scholar
  32. Williams RB (1998) Measurements of cnidae from sea anemones (Cnidaria: Actiniaria), II: further studies of differences amongst sample means and their taxonomic relevance. Sci Mar 62:361–372Google Scholar
  33. Williams RB (2000) Measurements of cnidae from sea anemones (Cnidaria†¯: Actiniaria), III: ranges and other measures of statistical dispersion, their interrelations and taxonomic relevance. Sci Mar 64:49–68Google Scholar
  34. Wilson H V (1890) On a new actinia, Hoplophoria coralligens. Stud Biol Lab Johns Hopkins Univ 4:379–387Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ricardo González-Muñoz
    • 1
    Email author
  • Agustín Garese
    • 1
  • José Luis Tello-Musi
    • 2
  • Fabián H. Acuña
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratorio de Biología de Cnidarios, Instituto de Investigaciones Marinas y Costeras, Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y NaturalesUniversidad Nacional de Mar del Plata-CONICETMar del PlataArgentina
  2. 2.Laboratorio de Zoología, Facultad de Estudios Superiores Iztacala (FES-I), UNAMEstado de MéxicoMéxico

Personalised recommendations