Diploria labyrinthiformis is a species of brain coral, so-named because of its appearance.
The coral lives in shallow water habitats, such as reefs. A single-celled symbiotic algae lives within its cells and so it can only survive in water which receives enough light for photosynthesis to take place.
Corals are very sensitive to environmental changes and coral reef populations are declining rapidly, with global warming one of the factors responsible.
The skeletons of pristine living forms of Diploria labyrinthiformis consist, like all other scleractinian corals, of the mineral aragonite, a form of calcium carbonate (CaCO3).
In older specimens, and especially fossilised forms, this changes into calcite (CaCO3) or other minerals.
Ocean acidification is an additional threat to corals with hard skeletons because calcium carbonate dissolves in acid, so they cannot form their skeletons properly in an acidic environment.
The grooved brain coral, Diploria labyrinthiformis.
A dome-shaped colony of the grooved brain coral, Diploria labyrinthiformis. This recent specimen comes from Whalebone Bay, Bermuda
Close-up of the surface detail of the valleys and ridges of the grooved brain coral. This recent specimen comes from Whalebone Bay, Bermuda.
A typical Caribbean coral reef in Bonaire in the Netherlands Antilles. The grooved brain coral is a typical common coral of Atlantic shallow water habitats, including Caribbean reefs. © www.istockphoto.com
Scientific Associate in the Zoology Department.
Curator in the Palaeontology Department.
A symbiotic organism is one that lives closely with another organism of a different species in a prolonged way. This association is referred to as symbiosis and is often, but not always, mutally beneficial.