BIOTIC Species Information for Leptopsammia pruvoti
Researched byAngus Jackson Data supplied byMarLIN
Refereed byPaul Tranter
Scientific nameLeptopsammia pruvoti Common nameSunset cup coral
MCS CodeD804 Recent SynonymsLeptopsammia microcardia

PhylumCnidaria Subphylum
SuperclassAnthozoa ClassHexacorallia
Subclass OrderScleractinia
Suborder FamilyCaryophylliidae
GenusLeptopsammia Speciespruvoti

Additional InformationThe synonym Leptopsammia microcardia was last used by Abel (1959) and Rutzler, 1966 despite the general recognition of their synonymy since 1954.
Taxonomy References Hayward et al., 1996, Howson & Picton, 1997, Manuel, 1988, Anonymous, 1999(f), Zibrowius, 1980,
General Biology
Growth formCylindrical
Feeding methodPredator
Passive suspension feeder
Mobility/MovementPermanent attachment
Environmental positionEpifaunal
Typical food typesZooplankton, organic particulates HabitAttached
BioturbatorNot relevant FlexibilityNone (< 10 degrees)
FragilityFragile SizeSmall-medium(3-10cm)
Height6 cm Growth Rate1.3 mm/year
Adult dispersal potentialNone DependencyIndependent
General Biology Additional InformationYounger individuals have a round calice which becomes elliptical with age. The skeleton is porous. It is not known whether the species is hermaphroditic or gonochoristic. The size range applies to maximum height of the corallum. The longest diameter of the calyx is 17 mm. Growth rate has been observed to be very slow in aquarium specimens which are little fed and in same seawater for several months (2 mm across calice after 18 months) but can be fast if fed and in continuous seawater supply (to 10 mm across calice after one year. (Paul Tranter, pers. comm.). Typically found as solitary individuals but may occur as several corallia from the same base forming 'pseudocolonies': during culture experiments, if any of the tissue overlying the skeletal column was lost, there would eventually appear, over a matter of weeks, one or more small polyps which would eventually form part of the 'parent' skeleton and give the impression of a naturally formed colony (Paul Tranter, pers. comm.). Leptopsammia pruvoti is known to have the ability to control and possibly 'farm' the bacterial content of its coelenteric cavity (Herndl & Velimirov, 1985). These bacteria could be used as an additional food source. The horseshoe worm Phoronis hippocrepia and the fan worm Potamilla reniformis bore into the base of the skeleton of Leptopsammia pruvoti and the bivalve Hiatella arctica further enlarges these boreholes. Once bored, the skeleton is weakened and corals may be easily detached.
Biology References Manuel, 1988, Anonymous, 1999(f), Zibrowius, 1980, Herndl & Velimirov, 1985, Lacaze-Duthiers, 1897,
Distribution and Habitat
Distribution in Britain & IrelandPortland Bill, Lyme Bay, off Plymouth Sound, the Isles of Scilly and Lundy only. Believed to no longer occur in North Devon near Ilfracombe where it was present in 1969 (K. Hiscock, pers. comm.)
Global distributionFound throughout the Mediterranean west of Cyprus and in the Adriatic. Also on the Atlantic coasts of SW England, the Channel Isles, Brittany and Portugal. It has not been recorded despite targeted survey in Madeira, the Azores, or the Canary Isles.
Biogeographic rangeNot researched Depth range10-40 m
MigratoryNon-migratory / Resident   
Distribution Additional InformationThis species is at the northern limit of its range possibly forming a relict from a larger previous distribution. It is now restricted to 'ideal' locations.

Substratum preferencesSmall boulders
Large to very large boulders
Physiographic preferencesOpen coast
Biological zoneLower Infralittoral
Upper Circalittoral
Lower Circalittoral
Wave exposureExposed
Moderately Exposed
Tidal stream strength/Water flowModerately Strong (1-3 kn)
Weak (<1 kn)
Very Weak (negligible)
SalinityFull (30-40 psu)
Habitat Preferences Additional InformationNone entered
Distribution References Manuel, 1988, Anonymous, 1999(f), Zibrowius, 1980, Lacaze-Duthiers, 1897,
Reproduction/Life History
Reproductive typeGonochoristic
Developmental mechanismLecithotrophic
Reproductive SeasonJuly to September Reproductive LocationWater column
Reproductive frequencyInsufficient information Regeneration potential No
Life spanInsufficient information Age at reproductive maturityInsufficient information
Generation timeInsufficient information FecundityInsufficient information
Egg/propagule sizeInsufficient information Fertilization typeExternal
Larval/Juvenile dispersal potential<10m Larval settlement periodInsufficient information
Duration of larval stage1 day   
Reproduction Preferences Additional InformationLifespan has not been established for this species but it is probably quite long lived. Individuals tend to die through weakening of the skeleton by boring organisms and subsequent detachment by agents such as foraging fish or careless divers. However, skeletons (dead individuals) have been found still attached to rocks (K. Hiscock, pers. comm.) Populations tend to become extinct through lack of recruitment. Lacaze-Duthiers, (1897) suggests that the sexes are separate. Eggs are laid in succession , at indefinite, fairly well-spaced intervals over a period of time that must be substantial (Lacaze-Duthiers, 1897). Larvae have been successfully produced in aquaria. The eggs are released from the female stomach cavity and those that are unfertilised may float to the surface. Fertilised eggs (young larvae) swim actively in the water column (K. Hiscock pers. comm..) but settle rapidly to the substratum close to the adult, where after a period of freedom they attach themselves in the shape of an ovoid or a ciliated worm (Lacaze-Duthiers, 1897). The larval settling time is generally short but observations from aquaria suggest that the larval stage may exist for up to six weeks before settling. Recruitment is very sporadic. Over 12 years of monitoring on Lundy has shown little or no recruitment and the population there declined by 22 percent between 1993 and 1997. Recruitment may fail for several reasons. Environmental conditions (primarily temperature) are unsuitable for gamete production to occur or to occur synchronously. Alternatively larvae may be swept away into unsuitable habitat by water currents or be consumed by predators before metamorphosing. Recruitment in the Mediterranean is also sporadic. Some recruitment may occur through influx of southern water bodies bringing with it larvae.
Reproduction References Anonymous, 1999(f), Lacaze-Duthiers, 1897,
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