Abstracts for the Annual Meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology,
held 6-10 January 1999.



ABSTRACT 211 - American Zoologist 38(5): 62A

Relationship Among Scleractinian Corals and their Sea Anemone Allies
Fautin D.G. and V.A. Cappola

Research on relationships among scleractinians and other anthozoans has been impeded by lack of knowledge about soft-tissue attributes of the skeletalized animals.  We review and interpret data on scleractinian polyps comparable to data used in taxonomic and phylogenetic analyses of non-skeletalized anthozoans.  Taxonomy of the structurally simple sea anemones and their soft-bodied allies is based largely on histological and anatomical attributes of the polyps.  The more important characters are those that are not altered in preservation, including distribution and size of nematocysts, nature of musculature, and arrangement of tentacles.  Other characters of taxonomic value - including length of tentacles, body form, and color pattern - typically differ in living and preserved specimens.  Taxonomists of scleractinian corals have accorded primary importance to features of the skeleton.  There are many such features, and they do not change in preservation.  Moreover, coral polyps, being situated in the skeleton, can be difficult to study, and many are small.  Molecular analyses hold promise for integrated evolutionary studies of these organisms.  We present a complementary approach to investigating anthozoan phylogeny.
This research was supported by NSF grant DEB95-21819 (PEET) to DGF.

ABSTRACT 213 - American Zoologist 38(5): 63A

Using  sequence data to resolve the generic placement of Heteractis magnifica (Actiniaria: Stichodactylidae)
White T. R.

Using nucleic acid sequence data, I will assess the current taxonomic placement of the tropical Indo-Pacific sea anemones that are host to clownfish.  The characters currently used to classify the sea anemones are morphological (e.g. histology, cnidae, anatomy) and ecological (e.g. clownfish symbionts, depth/geographic range, reproductive mode, habitat).  The present members of the Stichodactylidae belong to two genera, Stichodactyla (five species) and Heteractis (four species), which can be distinguished from one another by tentacle length and arrangement.  The generic placement of H. magnifica has been based on these two tentacle attributes, but other characters indicate it may belong to the genus Stichodactyla.  Such characters include tentacle shape, nematocysts, and refractile endoderm, a character shared with three species of Stichodactyla.  I will use sequence data from the cytochrome oxidase subunit III (COIII) to resolve the generic placement of H. magnifica.  The COIII sequence data taken from each of the nine species will be used to create a phylogenetic tree that will show the proximity of H. magnifica to the members of Stichodactyla and Heteractis. This tree will also reveal which morphological characters are taxonomically and phylogenetically informative.

ABSTRACT 214 - American Zoologist 38(5): 63A

Electronic Images of Sea Anemones (Actiniaria): Preservation of Scientific Illustrations and Specimens
McCloskey B.J., T.T. Tang and D.G. Fautin

   Nearly 1500 species of sea anemones have been described in the scientific literature. We are creating  an electronic catalogue of all anemone species. Each entry includes the bibliographic reference to the  description, the type locality, and the museum in which type specimens are housed.  Also included are illustrations from the original description.  We are also adding to this database unpublished images obtained from microscope slides and preserved museum specimens upon which the original description was based.  The primary goal of this catalogue is to make taxonomic research more efficient and thorough.  A second goal of this project is to preserve for posterity electronic images of these illustrations, slides, and specimens, some of which are more than 150 years old.  The publications, slides, and specimens are at risk of deteriorating and being lost or destroyed, and need to be preserved while still in relatively good condition.  We will eventually place these images on CD-ROM and the Internet, media that will allow them to be available to researchers for years to come.

ABSTRACT 359 - American Zoologist 38(5): 104A

Use of Amplified Fragment Length Polymorphisms (AFLPs) to distinguish among species of sea anemones in the genus Urticina
Hauswaldt S.

Taxonomic studies of species of sea anemones have traditionally relied on morphological characters such as color pattern, nature and shape of muscles, distribution of fertile mesenteries, and types, sizes and distribution of cnidae.  Since the early 1980s molecular characters, mainly allozymes, have been employed in several studies in the field of sea anemone systematics.  Nucleotide sequence data and DNA fingerprints have only been used in a few studies in this field.  In search of suitable molecular markers to distinguish among four of the nominal species of Urticina and two putative congeneric species from the North American Pacific coast, I have examined DNA sequences from the mitochondrial and nuclear genome as well as AFLPs.  There was not enough variation in the DNA sequences to distinguish among the species.  AFLP fingerprints have provided necessary resolution among the four nominal and one of the putative species.  AFLP fingerprints from the other putative species did not differ from those of U. coriacea.  Results from the molecular analysis corroborated those from the morphological analysis, in which I examined types, sizes and distribution of cnidae.  (Molecular study supported by a grant from the University of Kansas to D. Smith; cnidae analysis supported by NSF grant DEB95-21819 to D. Fautin)