Geologica Belgica Geologica Belgica -  volume 15 (2012)  number 4 - Proceedings of the XIth International Symposium on Fossil Cnidaria and Porifera 

The Scleractinian corals: a perspective


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Department of Biology, Rivier College, 420 South Main Street, Nashua, NH 03060, U.S.A.,


Though scientific interest in scleractinian corals originated in the 16th century, the knowledge base continues to grow and is far from complete. The progress of the research on these organisms is represented here as an exponential process and its history may be divided into three periods. In the beginning, Plant period (1576-1727), these organisms were interpreted as plants. The Animal period (1727-2007) brought in their consideration as animals and includes three phases that introduce new research approaches (phase 1: variability, microstructure, transplantation; phase 2: multiple skeletal characters, global spatial and temporal attention; phase 3: life history, molecular biology). Recently, the number of sources of scleractinian knowledge has increased to five: morphology, paleobiology, ecology, life history and molecular biology. Scleractinian corals are no longer considered alone but as holobionts, along with their symbiotic zooxanthallae and other associated microbiota. The accumulated multidisciplinary data and new integrative concepts urge a holistic interpretation and have been indicating (since 2007) the commencement of the present, Holistic period. This analysis of the current status of scleractinian knowledge provides a list of proposed directions for future research.

To cite this article

Vassil N. ZLATARSKI & Joel L. STAKE, «The Scleractinian corals: a perspective», Geologica Belgica [En ligne], volume 15 (2012), number 4 - Proceedings of the XIth International Symposium on Fossil Cnidaria and Porifera, 370-375 URL :