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Colony of Leptogorgia hebes. Photo courtesy of: J. Reed, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution.

Species Name: Leptogorgia hebes
Common Name: False Sea Fan
Regal Sea Fan
Synonymy: None
  1. TAXONOMY

    Kingdom Phylum/Division Class: Order: Family: Genus:
    Animalia Cnidaria Anthozoa Gorgonacea Gorgonidae Leptogorgia

    Other Taxonomic Groupings

    L. hebes has formerly been classified as belonging to the genus Lophogorgia, but this is no longer considered a separate genus.

    Species Description

    Gorgonians, or soft corals, belong to the suborder Holaxonia. These colonial cnidarians are so named because they lack the permanent, rigid skeleton of hard corals. As octocorallians, they possess 8 tentacles and 8 complete mesentaries. Only a single siphonoglyph is present. Branches in gorgonians are arranged around a central axis. Leptogorgia hebes is a thickly branching gorgonian which usually grows in one plane. Branch color may range from orange or red to purple. Polyps are white and alternate along the branches in rows. See Verrill 1869; and Bayer 1961 for further description and taxonomic information.

  2. HABITAT AND DISTRIBUTION

    Regional Occurrence

    Leptogorgia hebes occurs from North Carolina to Brazil, including the east central and gulf coasts of Florida. Depth distribution is approximately from 25 - 130 ft.

    IRL Distribution

    L. hebes occurs in inlet areas of the Indian River Lagoon and in the nearshore reefs off east central Florida.

  3. LIFE HISTORY AND POPULATION BIOLOGY

    Age, Size, Lifespan

    Shallow inshore and offshore populations of Leptogorgia hebes showed annual periodicity of concentric rings in the axial skeleton. However, no differences were observed in growth increments of colonies from either site (Mitchell 1993). Although spicule formation occurs throughout the colony, it is most rapid at the branch tip (Kingsley & Watabe 1989).

    Typical adult size of Leptogorgia hebes is 15 cm.

    Abundance

    Common

    Locomotion

    Sessile

  4. PHYSICAL TOLERANCES

    Temperature

    Temperature range for Leptogorgia hebes on nearshore reefs off Fort Pierce, FL was 13 - 31°C, and averaged 24.6°C.

    Salinity

    Salinity ranges from 26 - 36.4 ppt for L. hebes colonies in the nearshore reefs off Ft. Pierce, FL.

  5. COMMUNITY ECOLOGY

    Trophic Mode

    Suspension feeding on plankton and other small animals that come within range of the polyp's tentacles.

    Habitat

    Rock and limestone ledges are preferred substrata for Leptogorgia hebes. Shallow water populations of L. hebes are able to withstand moderate wave exposure.

  6. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

    No information is available at this time

  7. REFERENCES

    Bayer FM. 1961. The shallow-water Octocorallia of the West Indian region. Studies on the Fauna of Curaçao and other Caribbean Islands 12: 1-373.

    Kingsley RJ, Watabe N. 1989. The dynamics of spicule calcification in whole colonies of the gorgonian Leptogorgia virgulata (Lamarck) (Coelenterata: Gorgonacea). J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 133: 57-65.

    Mitchell ND, Dardeau MR, Schroeder WW. 1993. Colony morphology, age structure, and relative growth of two gorgonian corals, Leptogorgia hebes (Verrill) and Leptogorgia virgulata (Lamarck), from the northerm Gulf of Mexico. Coral Reefs 12: 65-70.

    Verrill AE. 1869. Synopsis of the polyps and corals of the North Pacific Exploring Expedition, under Commodore C. Ringgold and Capt. John Rodgers, USN, from 1853 to 1856. Part IV. Actiniaria. In: Proc Essex Inst 6: 51-104.

Report by: J. Dineen, Smithsonian Marine Station
with thanks to J. Reed, HBOI
Submit additional information, photos or comments to:
irl_webmaster@si.edu
Page last updated: July 25, 2001

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