Other Taxonomic Groupings
L. hebes has formerly been classified as belonging to the genus Lophogorgia,
but this is no longer considered a separate genus.
Gorgonians, or soft corals, belong to the suborder
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.
HABITAT AND DISTRIBUTION
hebes occurs from North Carolina to Brazil, including the east central and gulf
coasts of Florida. Depth distribution is approximately from 25 - 130 ft.
L. hebes occurs in
inlet areas of the Indian River Lagoon and in the nearshore reefs off east
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.
Temperature range for Leptogorgia hebes on nearshore reefs off Fort
Pierce, FL was 13 - 31°C, and averaged 24.6°C.
Salinity ranges from 26 - 36.4 ppt for L. hebes colonies in the nearshore
reefs off Ft. Pierce, FL.
Suspension feeding on plankton and
other small animals that come within range of the polyp's tentacles.
Rock and limestone ledges are preferred substrata for Leptogorgia hebes.
Shallow water populations of L. hebes are able to withstand moderate wave
No information is available at this time
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
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Page last updated: July 25, 2001