Diploria labyrinthiformis, known by the common name grooved brain coral, is a species of stony coral in the family Mussidae. Found in tropical areas of the west Atlantic Ocean, it has a familiar, maze-like appearance.
This species of reef-building coral has a hemispherical, brain-like shape with a brown, yellow, or gray colour. It has characteristic deep, interconnected double-valleys. These polyp-bearing valleys are each separated by grooved ambulacral ridges. There may be a difference in colour between the valleys and the grooves.
Diploria labyrinthiformis can grow upward at a rate of approximately 3.5 millimeters per year, achieving about 2 metres (6.6 feet) in diameter. During its planktonic larval stage, the coral has locomotion. After that time, it becomes permanently sessile.
This species is a suspension feeder, and survives mainly on zooplankton and bacteria. These are captured by the polyps, by extruding mesenterial filaments and tentaces. The polyps have nematocysts which are triggered to hold their prey immobile. The prey is then transported to the mouth with the assistance of mucus and cilia.
Distribution and habitat
Diploria labyrinthiformis is found in tropical parts of the west Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean Sea, the southern tip of Florida, the Bahamas, Bermuda and the coasts of Central America.
This coral occurs offshore at depths ranging from 1 to 30 metres (3.3 to 98.4 feet).
Relationships with other species
Diploria labyrinthiformis hosts Zooxanthella, a symbiotic dinoflagellate alga. The alga benefits from being in a protective environment in an elevated position. The coral benefits from the nutrients produced photosynthetically by the alga which provides part of its needs for growth and calcification.
- Polychaetes [annelid worm (animal)|worms)
- Sea urchins
- Sea spiders
- Parrotfish and other fishes
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