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Revista de biología marina y oceanografía

versión On-line ISSN 0718-1957

Rev. biol. mar. oceanogr. v.44 n.3 Valparaíso dic. 2009

http://dx.doi.org/10.4067/S0718-19572009000300025 

Revista de Biología Marina y Oceanografía 44(3): 791-802, diciembre de 2009

NOTAS CIENTÍFICAS

Sea Anemones (Cnidaria: Actiniaria and Corallimorpharia) from Panama

Anémonas de mar (Cnidaria: Actiniaria y Corallimorpharia) de Panamá

 

Agustín Garese1,2, Héctor M. Guzmán3 and Fabián H. Acuña1,2

1Departamento de Ciencias Marinas, Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata. Funes 3250, 7600 Mar del Plata, Argentina
2National Council for Scientific and Technical Research of Argentina (CONICET)
3Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, PO Box 0843-03092, Balboa, Ancon, Republic of Panama
agarese@mdp.edu.ar


RESUMEN

A partir de la literatura existente se realizó una lista actualizada y revisada de las anémonas de mar de ambas costas de Panamá, que incluyó 26 especies válidas (22 pertenecientes al orden Actiniaria, tres al orden Corallimorpharia y una especie de ubicación sistemática incierta). La especie Calliactis polypus es un registro nuevo para esta región. Siete de las especies se conocen solamente en Panamá. La riqueza de especies es predominante en el Golfo de Panamá, debido probablemente a un esfuerzo de muestreo mayor y desproporcionado en relación a otras zonas. El hecho que los registros existentes estén fuertemente sesgados hacia un centro de intenso muestreo, indica la necesidad de muestreos adicionales en otras áreas. Estudios posteriores deberán estar orientados no sólo a la búsqueda de nuevos taxa, sino también a la verificación de las descripciones y el status taxonómico de las especies registradas.

Palabras clave: cnidarios bentónicos, distribución, biodiversidad, América Central


INTRODUCTION

The Pacific and Caribbean coasts of the Republic of Panama are 1,700 km and 1,287 km long, respectively, and the islands, islets, and cays that lie over the continental shelf are home to a rich marine biodiversity. The sea anemones (the common name for cnidarians belonging to the orders Actiniaria and Corallimorpharia) from the coasts of Panama have been poorly studied, and most records date from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (Fautin 2008). The first records of sea anemones from the Pacific coast were made by Verrill (1869, 1870). He described 11 species of actiniarians, all of them recorded from the Gulf of Panama (mainly in Panama Bay). McMurrich (1893) added a record for Paractis lineolata[valid name Antiparactis lineolatus (Couthouy in Dana, 1846)] from the Gulf of Panama. Other authors have named other species with distributions along the Pacific coast of Panama [e.g. Torrey (1906) for Anthopleura xanthogrammica (Brandt, 1835)].

From the Caribbean coast, Verrill (1869) described the sea anemone species Paractis nobilis. Then, Smith (1973) registered Condylactis gigantea (Weinland, 1860) in symbiosis with a fish in Galeta island while Sebens (1976) is the most recent work referred to sea anemones and there are listed C. gigantea, Bunodosoma granulifera (Le Sueur, 1817), Stoichactis helianthus [now Stichodactyla helianthus (Ellis, 1768)], Lebrunia danae (Duchassaing & Michelotti, 1860), Phymanthus crucifer (Le Sueur, 1817), Heteractis lucida [now Ragactis lucida (Duchassaing de Fonbressin & Michelotti, 1860)], Bartholomea annulata (Le Sueur, 1817), Paradiscosoma neglecta [now Discosoma neglecta (Duchassaing & Michelotti, 1860)], Rhodactis sanctithomae [now Discosoma sanctithomae (Duchassaing & Michelotti, 1860)] and Ricordea florida (Duchassaing & Michelotti, 1860). All of them found in front of the coast of Colon city (at the Caribbean end of the Panama Canal). Moreover, McCommas (1991) has recorded B. granulifera in the coast of Colon while S. helianthus was registered by Dunn (1981). The corallimorpharians D. neglecta, D. sanctithomae, and R. florida were also recorded near Colon by Den Hartog (1980). These are the only corallimorpharians recorded for Panama, although Ritson-Williams & Paul (2007) recently reported one unidentified species of the genus Actinotryx from the archipelago of Bocas del Toro, but this genus is not valid (Fautin 2008). At this place, Guzmán & Guevara (1998a, 1998b, 1999, 2001) documented the presence of the actiniarian C. gigantea, Bartholomea lucida [now Ragactis lucida (Duchassaing de Fonbressin & Michelotti, 1860)], B. annulata (Le Sueur, 1817), Epicystis crucifer [now Phymanthus crucifer (Le Sueur, 1817)] and L. danae, as organisms associated with the coral reefs.

No recent taxonomic studies of the sea anemones of Panama exist. Therefore, the objective of this study was to compile and update the extant information from the literature and to provide an inventory of the sea anemones from both coasts of Panama. We also report a new record for the actiniarian Calliactis polypus (Forsskål, 1775) from the Pacific coast of Panama.

 

MATERIAL AND METHODS

Taxonomic records, distribution patterns, and information about type localities were extracted from the extant literature. The current classification of sea anemones and the taxonomic status of some species were cross-checked with the electronic database of Fautin (2008).

The identification of C. polypus was made by the first author during his stay at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute of Panama (STRI) from October to December 2008. Eight specimens of this species were found on October 29th, 2008 in Achotines Bay (7°25'4.24"N, 80°10'49.79"W), which lies on the southeastern tip of the Azuero Peninsula in the pacific littoral of Panama. They were collected from a hermit crab shell at a depth of 2 m by free diving by the first author during a field trip conducted by the STRI. The specimens were relaxed with MgCl2, then fixed in 5% formaldehyde and subsequently preserved in ethanol. Seven individuals were dissected and observed under a stereoscopic microscope. Cnidocysts from tentacles, column and acontia were identified using a Zeiss microscope with oil immersion at 1000X magnification. The descriptions of collected specimens agree very well with that provided by Fautin et al. (2007).

 

RESULTS

Twenty-six species of sea anemones have been recorded for Panama. Fourteen species all belonging to the Order Actiniaria (sea anemones sensu stricto) and grouped into five families (Table 1), occur along the Pacific Coast. On the Caribbean coast, 11 species (seven Actiniaria within five families, three Corallimorpharia within two families and one with uncertain systematic position) have been identified (Table 2). Some of the species recorded for Panama have been listed with a different name in other publications; these previous names are included in both tables (see also Fautin 2008).

Table 1. Species recorded from the Pacific coast of Panama and their distributions. In cases where there is no type locality defined for the species is highlighted (in bold) the locality of the original description (1) or the locality of a syntype (2)
Tabla 1. Especies registradas en la costa Pacífico de Panamá y su distribución. En casos donde no hay una localidad tipo definida para la especie se resalta (en negrita) la localidad de la descripción original (1) o la localidad de un sintipo (2)


 

Table 2. Species recorded from the Caribbean coast of Panama and their distributions. In cases where there is no type locality defined for the species is highlighted (in bold) the locality of the original description (1)
Tabla 2. Especies registradas en la costa Caribe de Panamá y su distribución. En casos donde no hay una localidad tipo definida para la especie se resalta (en negrita) la localidad de la descripción original (1)



 

Herein, we provide a new record for Calliactis polypus (Forsskål, 1775) (Fig. 1). This species has a wide distribution (see Table 1) and recently was found in the Galápagos Islands by Fautin et al. (2007).

Figure 1. The sea anemone Calliactis polypus: A new record for Panama
Figura 1. La anémona de mar Calliactis polypus: un registro nuevo para Panamá

 

At present six species have only been found along the Pacific coast of Panama and all of them are actiniarians. Five species belong to family Sagartiidae: Sagartia panamaensis Verrill, 1869; S. carcinophila Verrill, 1869; S. crispata Verrill, 1869); Actinothoe bradleyi (Verrill, 1869) and Phellia inornata Verrill, 1869; and one species belongs to family Actiniidae: Actinostella ornata Verrill, 1869. The other nine species are distributed in the northeastern Pacific [Actinostella bradleyi (Verrill, 1869); Anthopleura dowii Verrill, 1869; Bunodosoma grandis (Verrill, 1869); Calliactis variegata Verrill, 1869 and Telmatactis panamensis (Verrill, 1869)]. Anthopleura xanthogrammica (Brandt, 1835) is present in the northeastern and northwestern Pacific, the east coast of China, and along the Japanese coast. Antiparactis lineolatus (Couthouy in Dana, 1846) have been mentioned from the southern tip of Chile. Phymactis papillosa (Lesson, 1830) has a wide distribution in the eastern Pacific and has been recorded from Australia and New Zealand. The new record for Panama, Calliactis polypus, is the species with the widest distribution of all sea anemones recorded from Panama (Table 1).

On the Caribbean coast of Panama, Paractis nobilis Verrill, 1869 is the unique species that so far was only described in Panama; it was recorded from the northeastern reef by Verrill. The remaining species are widely distributed in the Caribbean Sea. Bunodosoma granulifera (Le Sueur, 1817) has been recorded for the Caribbean Sea but also for India (Table 2).

 

DISCUSSION

The most important previous taxonomic studies of Panamanian sea anemones were carried out by Verrill (1869) and Den Hartog (1980) for the Pacific and the Caribbean coast, respectively; however, comprehensive papers that summarized and verified information were not published. Besides the world-wide sea anemone database (Fautin 2008), this paper represents the first effort to compile all extant information concerning the taxonomy and distribution of sea anemones from Panama.

According with present knowledge, most species cited for the Pacific coast are restricted to the Gulf of Panama, and almost nothing is known about the anemones in other places, such as the Gulf of Chiriquí, where the large marine protected area of Panama, The Coiba National Park, is located. We attribute this disparity of information among different places to the fact that Panama City, with its harbor facilities and scientific institutions, has influenced the intensity of sampling and has biased it mainly to the gulf zone. Records of sea anemones from the Caribbean coast are concentrated in the region of Bocas del Toro, which is the site of the most recent records (Guzmán & Guevara 1998a, 1998b, 1999, 2001).

Overall, existing records of sea anemones from Panama are strongly biased towards a few centers of high research activity (i.e. Gulf of Panama and Bocas del Toro), which indicates a pressing need for additional systematic collection of this group from under-represented areas.

We noted seven cases where the species have been described only from Panama, which represents approximately the 26% of the species. However, the richness of the sea anemone fauna in Panama is high in comparison to that of the neighboring countries Costa Rica and Colombia, probably because a poor knowledge due to a lower research effort in these countries. This shows that in general the actinian fauna of the area have been poorly studied. Further studies should be directed to explore under-represented areas and to search for new taxa or records but also in order to verify the descriptions and taxonomic status of recorded species.

 

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

We are grateful to Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute for granting A.G. an internship to visit Naos Island Laboratories (STRI, Panama). We thank Carlos Guevara and Catalina Gomez for logistical and field support. We are also grateful to three anonymous reviewers who helped to improve this manuscript.

 

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Recibido el 5 de mayo de 2009 y aceptado el 23 de septiembre de 2009