Leptopsammia pruvoti

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Sunset cup coral
Leptosammia Pruvoti nella Grotta della Madonnina Capo Caccia Alghero Sardegna.JPG
Leptopsammia pruvoti
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Cnidaria
Class: Anthozoa
Order: Scleractinia
Family: Dendrophylliidae
Genus: Leptopsammia
L. pruvoti
Binomial name
Leptopsammia pruvoti
  • Leptopsammia microcardia Döderlein, 1913

Leptopsammia pruvoti, the sunset cup coral, is a solitary stony coral in the family Dendrophylliidae. It is an azooxanthellate species, meaning its tissues do not contain the symbiotic unicellular algae (zooxanthellae) of the genus Symbiodinium, as do most corals.[1] It is native to the Mediterranean Sea. The species was described by Henri de Lacaze-Duthiers in 1897 and named to honor the French marine biologist Georges Pruvot.


Leptosammia pruvoti partially retracted

Leptopsammia pruvoti is a solitary stony coral and superficially resembles a sea anemone. The polyp sits in a calcareous cup, wider at the base than the top, which varies in shape from cylindrical and short to conical and long. It grows to a height of about 60 mm (2.4 in) and a diameter of 20 mm (0.8 in). The polyp is yellow or orange with about ninety-six long, translucent yellow tentacles. It can retract back into the skeletal cup, so that the tentacles become barely visible.[2][3] This species can be confused with another yellow or orange cup coral, Balanophyllia regia, but that species never grows so large and has fewer tentacles.[4]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Leptopsammia pruvoti is found in the western Mediterranean Sea and the Adriatic and on the Atlantic coasts of Portugal, Brittany, the Channel Islands and southwestern England. Independent of sunlight, it is found under boulders, on bedrock, in crevices, under overhangs and in caves at depths between 10 and 40 metres (33 and 131 ft).[2][5]

In a sea cave in Italy it was noticed that the colonial coral Astroides calycularis was plentiful in well-lit locations but became less numerous in the darker parts of the cave while L. pruvoti became more abundant in dark positions. However, in locations where sulphur-laden spring water mixed with the sea water, this situation was reversed and Astroides calycularis was more common. The relative proportions of the two species may have been affected by the existence of mats of sulphur-digesting bacteria around the spring.[6]


A barnacle, Megatrema anglicum, is often found living parasitically inside Leptopsammia pruvoti.[7]

The breeding strategy of L. pruvoti involves high fecundity, a short incubation time for the embryos, small planula larvae and rapid maturation. The generation time is about 2.3 years and maximum longevity 13 years.[8]


  1. ^ a b c Hoeksema, Bert (2014). "Leptopsammia pruvoti Lacaze-Duthiers, 1897". World Register of Marine Species. Retrieved 2014-12-22.
  2. ^ a b Picton, B.E.; Morrow, C.C (2010). "Leptopsammia pruvoti Lacaze-Duthiers, 1897". Sea anemones and hydroids. Encyclopedia of Marine Life of Britain and Ireland. Retrieved 2014-12-22.
  3. ^ Jackson, Angus (2008). "Sunset cup coral - Leptopsammia pruvoti - General information". MarLIN. Retrieved 2014-12-16.
  4. ^ Picton, B.E.; Morrow, C.C (2010). "Balanophyllia regia Gosse, 1853". Sea anemones and hydroids. Encyclopedia of Marine Life of Britain and Ireland. Retrieved 2014-12-23.
  5. ^ Jackson, Angus (2008). "Sunset cup coral - Leptopsammia pruvoti - Habitat preferences and distribution". MarLIN. Retrieved 2014-12-16.
  6. ^ Aldemaro Romero Díaz (2009). Cave Biology: Life in Darkness. Cambridge University Press. p. 81. ISBN 978-0-521-82846-8.
  7. ^ R. N. Gibson; R. J. A. Atkinson; J. D. M. Gordon (2006). Oceanography and Marine Biology: An Annual Review. CRC Press. p. 163. ISBN 978-1-4200-0639-1.
  8. ^ Issues in Global Environment: Freshwater and Marine Environments: 2011 Edition. ScholarlyEditions. 2012. p. 604. ISBN 978-1-4649-6467-1.

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