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Coenocyathus sebroecki sp. nov.: a new azooxanthellate coral (Scleractinia, Caryophylliidae) from southeastern Brazil


Containing 51 extant genera and over 300 species, the family Caryophylliidae Dana, 1846 is reported from Antarctica to the Arctic, ranging from shallow to deep waters. Even though most caryophylliids are solitary, the majority of the most extensive deep-water reefs have their main engineers in colonial representatives of this family. However, several of these colonial species are small-sized and are usually found in shallow waters. Based on a study of colonies collected during scuba diving at Alcatrazes Archipelagos’ main island (São Paulo State) and Ilha Rasa (Rio de Janeiro), Brazil, a new species belonging to the genus Coenocyathus Milne Edwards & Haime, 1848 is described as C. sebroecki sp. nov. The species identity and its phylogenetic position within the Caryophylliidae could be distinguished by using morphological and genetic data. Also, the description of the cnidom of this species and remarks on its biology are provided, as well as a brief discussion on the polyphyly of the Caryophylliidae and an identification key for all extant Coenocyathus species.

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The authors would like to thank the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio) for all the support in the development of research at the Alcatrazes Wildlife Refuge and the Centre for Marine Biology for infrastructure support. MVK is thankful for the support of São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP #2014/01332-0) and the National Research Council (CNPq #301436/2018-5), and AEM acknowledges CNPq (# 308056/2015). The authors are also thankful to Dr. Fernando Coreixas de Moraes (MNRJ-UFRJ) for providing records of C. sebroecki from Ilha Rasa, which were produced during Project Ilhas do Rio, supported by Petrobras. We are also thankful to the three anonymous reviewers and Prof Bert Hoeksema for their comments and suggestions throughout the study.

This is a contribution of NP-BioMar (Research Center for Marine Biodiversity, USP).


This study was funded by the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP grant number #2014/01332–0).

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Correspondence to M. V. Kitahara.

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All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for animal testing and use of animals were followed by the authors.

Sampling and field studies

All necessary permits for sampling and observational field studies have been obtained by the authors from the competent authorities.

Data Availability

Specimens are housed in Museum collections and nucleotide sequences are available at GenBank.

Authors’ contributions

MVK conceived and designed research. AEM, KCCC, and MVK conducted experiments. AEM and MVK contributed reagents or analytical tools. MVK, KCCC, and AEM analyzed data and wrote the manuscript. All authors read and approved the manuscript.

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Communicated by B. W. Hoeksema

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Kitahara, M.V., Capel, K.C.C. & Migotto, A.E. Coenocyathus sebroecki sp. nov.: a new azooxanthellate coral (Scleractinia, Caryophylliidae) from southeastern Brazil. Mar. Biodivers. 50, 59 (2020).

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  • Cnidaria
  • Hard coral
  • New species
  • Alcatrazes archipelago
  • SW Atlantic
  • Mesenterial filaments