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Species Name:     Oculina diffusa    
Common Name:           (Ivory Bush Coral)

 

I.  TAXONOMY

Kingdom Phylum/Division: Class: Order: Family: Genus:
Animalia Cnidaria Anthozoa Scleractinia Oculinidae Oculina

 
Oculina diffusa colony.  Photo courtesy of Florida Marine Research Institute.

Species Name: 
Oculina diffusa Lamarck, 1816


Common Name:
Ivory Bush Coral;  Diffuse Ivory Bush Coral

 



Species Description:
Occulina diffusa generally forms dense colonies up to 12 inches in diameter on short, crooked branches.  Color is often a yellow-brown, but this feature can be obscured by other organisms which encrust the coral.  This species prefers shallow areas high in sedimentation, to depths of 3 - 75 feet, though it rarely  occurs below 40 feet.


II.  HABITAT AND DISTRIBUTION 

Regional Occurrence:
Oculina diffusa occurs in Florida, Bermuda, the Bahamas and the West Indies.

IRL Distribution:
While it does occur within the Indian River Lagoon, O. diffusa is found primarily on nearshore reefs off east central Florida.   


III. LIFE HISTORY AND POPULATION BIOLOGY

Age, Size, Lifespan:
Colonies grow to approximately 1 foot in diameter, with branches generally less than 1/2 inch in diameter.

Abundance:
Oculina diffusa is common in nearshore reefs off Florida, though it can be found within the Indian River Lagoon, especially around inlet areas.

Locomotion:
Sessile.

Reproduction:
Single polyps which have been sexually produced settle and attach to a substratum where they bud asexually to give rise to entire colonies.


IV.  PHYSICAL TOLERANCES

Temperature:
Reef temperatures recorded for Oculina diffusa off Fort Pierce, Florida ranged from 13 - 31 C and averaged 24.6 C. 

Salinity:
Salinities recorded for Oculina diffusa off Ft. Pierce, Florida ranged from 26 - 36.4 ppt. In the Indian River Lagoon, salinities for O. diffusa may be as low as 15 ppt.

V.  COMMUNITY ECOLOGY

Trophic Mode:
O. diffusa feeds on plankton and tiny fish;  it may also suspension feed to a smaller extent using mucous films to trap fine particles.

Habitat:
Oculina diffusa can be found on nearshore limestone ledges of 0.5 - 2.0 m relief.  It is also found in the Indian River Lagoon and the Intracoastal Waterway,  Typically, it is found at depths of 2 - 3 meters, up to 10 - 20 meters.


VI. SPECIAL STATUS

Special Status:
Habitat Structure

Notes on Special Status:
O. diffusa colonies provide habitat for a variety of invertebrates and fish species.

Benefit in the IRL:
Oculina diffusa has a positive economic impact in the Indian River Lagoon by providing habitat for commercially and recreationally important fish and crustaceans, as well as some mollusks and annelids.

Economic Importance:
None

 

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