- Aquatic Biomes
- Range depth
- 25 to 30 m
- 82.02 to 98.43 ft
Pseudopterogorgonia elisabethae is frequently found as a bushy aggregation of feather-like branches, each resembling a plume, around a central axis. The branches are long, with pinnate, distichous branchlets. Orientation is often across the usual current direction to maximize surface exposure to the currents of the water column. This tall feathery morphology is more suitable for the deeper waters where the water movement is slower because the gentle currents will not uproot the structure. (Humann and Deloach, 2002)
- Sexual Dimorphism
- sexes alike
- Range length
- 0.3 to 2 m
- 0.98 to 6.56 ft
- Mating System
- polygynandrous (promiscuous)
- Key Reproductive Features
- year-round breeding
- gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)
- Breeding interval
- spawns throughout the year but is highest from November to January.
- Breeding season
- Reproduction occurs throughout the year.
Some parental care is exhibited by the female colonies as they brood their fertilized eggs on the branches of the mother colony for 1-2 days, while the eggs develop into the planula larval stage. The brooding of the fertilized egg/developing planula is generally for their protection against predators. Pre-fertilization care may also be present as the female of this species does not release her eggs into the currents but instead holds them on her branches to better increase the chance that they will be fertilized instead of eaten. (Gutiérrez-Rodríguez and Lasker, 2005; Lasker, 2006; Walker and Bull, 1983)
- Parental Investment
- no parental involvement
- female parental care
The life span of this species is unknown.
is motile as a planula larval stage and a sessile, colonial species as an adult. Colonies are distinctly sexed. The soft body holds many polyps that remain retracted during the day and expel outwards at night to feed on nutrients in the water column.
This species has a symbiotic relationship with various clades of zooxanthellae with each polyp of the organism. The coral receives both oxygen and energy from this mutualism, whereas the zooxanthellae are provided with shelter, protection and some nutrients from the coral. (Humann and Deloach, 2002)
Communication and Perception
The polyps of the colony can perceive the prescence of light. This is evident because the breeding and feeding cycles exhibited by this coral. Breeding occurs most abundantly for all members of the species at the time of the full moon so the amount of light must be able to be sensed. Ability to discern light is also concluded from the organisms nocturnal feeding habits. Like all cnidarians, a tactile response will be launched by triggering of the nematocyst system. (Gutiérrez-Rodríguez and Lasker, 2005; Lasker, 2006; Mulzer, 2005)
- Communication Channels
The extended tentacles on the polyps of (Humann and Deloach, 2002)actively catch nutrients in the form of detritus, zooplankton and microbes from the water column. Nutrients are also received through the corals' symbiotic relationship with zooxanthellae (mostly clade-B). Excess sugar products are manufactured for the coral by the zooxanthellae in return for the protection, habitat and some wastes produced by the coral.
- Animal Foods
- other marine invertebrates
- Plant Foods
- Other Foods
- Foraging Behavior
Cyphoma gibbosums is an ectoparasite that feeds on the tissue of sea plumes, although is not the snail's preferred species. The flamingo tongue snail is a specially adapted predator for Gorgoniidae and is largely not susceptible to the defenses that Pseudopterogorgia has against other predators. (Humann and Deloach, 2002; Okpala and Wood, 2002)is well equipped for defense. This species produces a chemical compound called pseudopterosins, secondary toxic metabolites, which act as a deterrent for most predators and microbes. However, the flamingo tongue snail,
- Known Predators
- Flamingo tongue snail, Cyphoma gibbosum
There is a common mutualism, shared by most coral, with zooxanthellae (Symbiodinium spp.). The extent of this species and its role in the building of new reefs has not been fully investigated but other octocoral gorgonians, because they are firmly "rooted", may provide a base for other coral colonies to expand.
The flamingo tongue snail, Cyphoma gibbosums is an ectoparasite on Pseudopterogorgia sea plumes although is not the preferred host species. (Gutiérrez-Rodríguez and Lasker, 2005; Humann and Deloach, 2002; Okpala and Wood, 2002)
- Ecosystem Impact
- creates habitat
- Symbiodinium spp. (Clade B)
- Flamingo tongue snail, Cyphoma gibbosums
Economic Importance for Humans: Positive
This species has been studied for medicinal uses. The pseudopterosins that are produced have been used in medications such as analgesics, cosmetic creams and as a non-steriodal anti-inflammatory drug. The main compound isolated is pseudopterosin A, which is being studied because of the selectivity it exhibits as an analgesic. This species is also cultivated for fish tanks in the pet trade industry. ("Drugs From the Sea Index", 2011; Look, et al., 1986; Mulzer, 2005; Puyana, et al., 2004)
Economic Importance for Humans: Negative
There are no known adverse effects ofon humans.
This species is harvested for medicinal uses off of Caribbean Islands where it is native. However,is not currently endangered, threatened or protected.
Allison Huggan (author), Rutgers University, David V. Howe (editor), Rutgers University, Renee Mulcrone (editor), Special Projects.
- Atlantic Ocean
the body of water between Africa, Europe, the southern ocean (above 60 degrees south latitude), and the western hemisphere. It is the second largest ocean in the world after the Pacific Ocean.
reproduction that is not sexual; that is, reproduction that does not include recombining the genotypes of two parents
uses smells or other chemicals to communicate
used loosely to describe any group of organisms living together or in close proximity to each other - for example nesting shorebirds that live in large colonies. More specifically refers to a group of organisms in which members act as specialized subunits (a continuous, modular society) - as in clonal organisms.
- colonial growth
animals that grow in groups of the same species, often refers to animals which are not mobile, such as corals.
an animal that mainly eats decomposed plants and/or animals
particles of organic material from dead and decomposing organisms. Detritus is the result of the activity of decomposers (organisms that decompose organic material).
a substance used for the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease
animals which must use heat acquired from the environment and behavioral adaptations to regulate body temperature
- external fertilization
fertilization takes place outside the female's body
- female parental care
parental care is carried out by females
union of egg and spermatozoan
a method of feeding where small food particles are filtered from the surrounding water by various mechanisms. Used mainly by aquatic invertebrates, especially plankton, but also by baleen whales.
An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.
having a body temperature that fluctuates with that of the immediate environment; having no mechanism or a poorly developed mechanism for regulating internal body temperature.
- indeterminate growth
Animals with indeterminate growth continue to grow throughout their lives.
A large change in the shape or structure of an animal that happens as the animal grows. In insects, "incomplete metamorphosis" is when young animals are similar to adults and change gradually into the adult form, and "complete metamorphosis" is when there is a profound change between larval and adult forms. Butterflies have complete metamorphosis, grasshoppers have incomplete metamorphosis.
having the capacity to move from one place to another.
- native range
the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.
active during the night
- pet trade
the business of buying and selling animals for people to keep in their homes as pets.
photosynthetic or plant constituent of plankton; mainly unicellular algae. (Compare to zooplankton.)
an animal that mainly eats plankton
the kind of polygamy in which a female pairs with several males, each of which also pairs with several different females.
- radial symmetry
a form of body symmetry in which the parts of an animal are arranged concentrically around a central oral/aboral axis and more than one imaginary plane through this axis results in halves that are mirror-images of each other. Examples are cnidarians (Phylum Cnidaria, jellyfish, anemones, and corals).
structure produced by the calcium carbonate skeletons of coral polyps (Class Anthozoa). Coral reefs are found in warm, shallow oceans with low nutrient availability. They form the basis for rich communities of other invertebrates, plants, fish, and protists. The polyps live only on the reef surface. Because they depend on symbiotic photosynthetic algae, zooxanthellae, they cannot live where light does not penetrate.
- saltwater or marine
mainly lives in oceans, seas, or other bodies of salt water.
non-motile; permanently attached at the base.
Attached to substratum and moving little or not at all. Synapomorphy of the Anthozoa
reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female
uses touch to communicate
the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.
uses sight to communicate
- year-round breeding
breeding takes place throughout the year
animal constituent of plankton; mainly small crustaceans and fish larvae. (Compare to phytoplankton.)
2011. "Drugs From the Sea Index" (On-line). Resources. Accessed April 09, 2013 at http://www.marinebiotech.org/pseudopterosins.html.
Gutiérrez-Rodríguez, C., H. Lasker. 2005. Reproductive biology, development, and planula behavior in the Caribbean gorgonian Pseudopterogorgia elisabethae. Invertebrate Biology, 123: 54-67.
Humann, P., N. Deloach. 2002. Coral reef identification. Jacksonville, Florida, USA: New World Publications, Inc.
Lasker, H. 2006. High fertilization success in a surface brooding Caribbean gorgonian. The Biological Bulletin, 210: 10-17.
Look, S., W. Fenicle, R. Jacobs, J. Clardy. 1986. The pseudopterosins: anti-inflammatory and analgesic natural products from the sea whip Pseudopterogorgia elisabethae. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A., 83: 6238-6240.
Mulzer, J. 2005. Natural product synthesis: targets, methods, concepts. The Netherlands: Spring-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.
Okpala, D., J. Wood. 2002. "Marine Invertebrates of Bermuda" (On-line). Accessed February 23, 2013 at http://www.thecephalopodpage.org/MarineInvertebrateZoology/Cyphomagibbosum.html.
Puyana, M., G. Narvaez, A. Paz, O. Osorno, C. Duque. 2004. Pseudopterosin content variability of the purple sea whip Pseudopterogorgia elisabethae at the islands of San Andres and Providencia (SW Caribbean). Journal of Chemical Ecology, 6: 1183-1187.
Walker, T., G. Bull. 1983. A newly discovered method of reproduction in gorgonian coral. Marine Ecology, 12: 137-143.