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 Colonies of this species are pink and up to 4 cm high and 5 cm wide when the polyps are contracted. The colonies typically form thick, fleshy masses of irregular shaped, stout, finger-like projections. Colonies may densely cover several square metres of rock. Alcyonium hibernicum is very similar in colour and morphology to Alcyonium coralloides and may be distinguished by its lobate or digitate morphology which differs to the more encrusting Alcyonium coralloides. Also, Alcyonium hibernicum is found only on shaded or overhanging rock surfaces.The taxonomy of the species has been recently revised by McFadden (1999). Alcyonium hibernicum was previously described as Alcyonium coralloides and Parerythopodium coralloides. Alcyonium hibernicum was also named Alcyonium pusillum by Tixier-Durivault and Lafargue (1966). McFadden (1999) considered Alcyonium hibernicum and Alcyonium coralloides to be separate species and suggested that they represented clades of five different species based on allozyme polymorphisms. In 2004 McFadden and Hutchinson suggested that Alcyonium hibernicum originates as a hybrid, with Alcyonium coralloides being one parent.


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©  The Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom

Source: Marine Life Information Network

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