Vol. 39 No. 3, 2000
A Taxonomic Reappraisal of Montipora digitata Based on Genetic and Morphometric Evidence
Department of Marine Biology, James Cook University of North Queensland, Townsville, QLD 4811, Australia
Ben Stobart (2000) Recent molecular and reproductive studies have demonstrated that 2 morphs of Montipora digitata
are different species. In this study, skeletal morphology was examined
to determine whether the species can be identified using traditional
taxonomic methods, and to establish suitable names for the species.
Univariate and multivariate analyses based on 5 skeletal characters
revealed that the 2 species do differ in morphology. However, overlap
of these characters renders them unsuitable for species identification.
A further character, septal shape, was found to be species specific.
Examination of museum specimens using septal shape to distinguish the
species revealed that the 2 species correspond to the holotypes for M. digitata (Dana 1846) and M. tortuosa
(Dana 1846). This study highlights the usefulness of a multiple-
technique approach to coral taxonomy, with each alternative technique
acting as a test for the other, which reduces the chance of an
Key words: Coral, Montipora, Taxonomy, Morphometrics.
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