Clypeotheca, a new skeletal structure in scleractinian corals : a potential stress indicator

Nothdurft, Luke & Webb, Gregory (2009) Clypeotheca, a new skeletal structure in scleractinian corals : a potential stress indicator. Coral Reefs, 28(1), pp. 143-153.

View at publisher


Physiological responses to environmental stress are increasingly well studied in scleractinian corals. This work reports a new stress-related skeletal structure we term clypeotheca. Clypeotheca was observed in several livecollected common reef-building coral genera and a two to three kya subfossil specimen from Heron Reef, Great Barrier Reef and consists of an epitheca-like skeletal wall that seals over the surface of parts of the corallum in areas of stress or damage. It appears to form from a coordinated process wherein neighboring polyps and adjoining coenosarc seal themselves off from the surrounding environment as they contract and die. Clypeotheca forms from inward skeletal centripetal growth at the edges of corallites and by the merging of flange-like outgrowths that surround individual spines over the surface of the coenosteum. Microstructurally, the merged flanges are similar to upsidedown dissepiments and true epitheca. Clypeotheca is interpreted primarily as a response to stress that may help protect the colony from invasion of unhealthy tissues by parasites or disease by retracting tissues in areas that have become unhealthy for the polyps. Identification of skeletal responses of corals to environmental stress may enable the frequency of certain types of environmental stress to be documented in past environments. Such data may be important for understanding the nature of reef dynamics through intervals of climate change and for monitoring the effects of possible anthropogenic stress in modern coral reef habitats.

Impact and interest:

8 citations in Scopus
Search Google Scholar™
8 citations in Web of Science®

Citation counts are sourced monthly from Scopus and Web of Science® citation databases.

These databases contain citations from different subsets of available publications and different time periods and thus the citation count from each is usually different. Some works are not in either database and no count is displayed. Scopus includes citations from articles published in 1996 onwards, and Web of Science® generally from 1980 onwards.

Citations counts from the Google Scholar™ indexing service can be viewed at the linked Google Scholar™ search.

ID Code: 28619
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Scleractinian coral, Environmental stress, Skeletal modification, Physiological response, Fossil coral
DOI: 10.1007/s00338-008-0439-7
ISSN: 0722-4028
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EARTH SCIENCES (040000) > GEOLOGY (040300)
Divisions: Past > Schools > Biogeoscience
Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Science and Technology
Deposited On: 16 Nov 2009 05:28
Last Modified: 29 Feb 2012 13:59

Export: EndNote | Dublin Core | BibTeX

Repository Staff Only: item control page