CaryophyllioideaStephen D. Cairns
Representatives of this family occur from the early Jurassic (about 180 million years ago) to the Recent, and are widespread in the world oceans, commonly being found as fossils on all continents, including Antarctica (Filkorn, 1994). One hundred sixteen genera have been described, most of which (73 genera and 347 species) occur in the Recent (Cairns et al., 1999). Most are azooxanthellate (86% of the genera) and solitary in growth form (63% of the genera). Although colonies may reach a meter or more in size, most caryophyllioideans are small, rarely greater than 20-30 mm in size. Although several genera in this superfamily are colonial reef builders, most are inconspicuous, occurring cryptically in shallow-water environments or as benthos on the lower shelf and upper slope (0-2165 m).
The superfamily is characterized by having coralla with a septothecal (constructed of thickening of septa) or parathecal (constructed of dissepiments) trabecular wall in the adult stage. Nontrabecular epitheca (rare) or textura (more common) may overlay the original wall, and granulated costae are usually present (Stolarski, 1995).
No phylogenetic analysis has been done on the suprageneric taxa of the Caryophyllioidea; however, Stolarski (1995, 1996), Romano and Palumbi (1996), and Romano and Cairns (2000) are currently investigating and reassessing the higher level relationships in this superfamily by using characteristics of the corallum microstructure and DNA sequences, respectively.
Cairns S. D., B. W. Hoeksema, and J. van der Land. 1999. Appendix: List of Extant Stony Corals. Attol Research Bulletin, 459:13-46.
Filkorn, H. F. 1994. Fossil scleractinian corals from the James Ross Basin, Antarctica. Antarctic Research Series, 65: 96 pp.
Romano, S. L. and S. D. Cairns. 2000. Molecular Phylogenetic Hypotheses from the Evolution of Scleractinian Corals. Bulletin of Marine Science.
Romano, S. L. and S. R. Palumbi. 1996. Evolution of scleractinian corals inferred from molecular systematics. Science, 271: 640-642.
Stolarski, J. 1995. Ontogenetic development of the thecal structures in caryophylliine scleractinian corals. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica, 40: 19-44.
Stolarski, J. 1996. Gardineria -- a scleractinian living fossil. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica, 41: 339-367.
Stolarski, J. 2000. Origin and phylogeny of Guyniidae (Scleractinia) in the light of microstructural data. Lethaia, 33: 13-38.
Wells, J. W. 1956. Scleractinia. Pp. F328-F444 In: Moore, R. C. (editor) Treatise on Invertebrate Paleontology, Part F: Coelenterata. University of Kansas Press, Lawrence.
Technical assistance was rendered by Adorian Ardelean.
Correspondence regarding this page should be directed to Stephen D. Cairns at
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- First online 28 October 2002
Citing this page:
Cairns, Stephen D. 2002. Caryophyllioidea http://tolweb.org/Caryophyllioidea/19019/2002.10.28 in The Tree of Life Web Project, http://tolweb.org/. Version 28 October 2002.