Select the search type
  • Site
  • Web
You are here:   OldClasses > 2012 > Stylophora pistillata | Alex Coughlan




Stylophora pistillata, Esper 1797

 Hood coral        
 (Alex Coughlan, 2012)




Fact Sheet



Physical Description


Life History & Behaviour

Anatomy & Physiology

Evolution & Systematics

Biogeographic Distribution

Conservation & Threats

References & Links

Evolution & Systematics

Origin of Stylophora pistillata

Flot et al (2011) identified through genetic sequencing that Stylophora pistillata is likely to have originated in the Western Indian Ocean, not the coral triangle (a hypothesised origin for marine species) as previously thought. Genetic analyses of many S. pistillata colonies throughout its distribution revealed that there were likely 4 different sub-species of S.pistillata (species C occurring on the GBR).


Distinct lineages?

Stefani et al (2011) compared morphology and genetics of S. pistillata and S. madagascarensis. Both species appeared to have different morphological characters regarding the size of the corallite and the morphological variability within the species. The analysis found strong evidence for internal divergence within Stylophora. Two distinct populations with morphological overlap were identified between the Red Sea and Western Pacific regions, suggesting two distinct lineages.



What once was historically thought to be many species of Stylophora has now been reduced to many “ecomorphs” of just a few species (Gattuso et al., 1991). The concept of ecomorphs relates to the high levels of phenotypic plasticity within the genus Stylophora, initially based on morphological characteristics, each different phenotype of S. pistillata was considered a different sub-species. The presence of sub-species within S. pistillatais still highly debated. While some believe shallow water S. pistillata are actually a separate species (S. mordax) (Scheer and Pillai, 1974, Hamilton and Brakel, 1984, Gattuso et al., 1991, Hidaka, 1992, Cairns et al., 1999, Pichon, 2007), others believe it is a junior synonym of S. pistillata as intermediate forms of both occur in the field (Veron and Pichon, 1976, Scheer and Pillai, 1983, Veron, 2000).  To add to the confusion, the “two shallow water species” have a very similar geographic distribution.


Phylogenetic tree of Stylophora pistillata




(2 objects, created 5/6/2011)

Album: This is a private album that is not visible to anonymous users Great Barrier Reef Invertebrates



Album: 2012

Album: 2011