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Isopora palifera can be encrusting, or massive, form columnar branches or parallel ridges of blade-like branches. The shape adopted is much dependent on how much water movement there is at its site of growth it is encrusting in a strong current or on the seaward side of a reef and is more branching in calm, still conditions. The branches are 5 to 15 cm (2 to 6 in) in diameter and up to 20 cm (8 in) long. Each branch has several axial corallites up to 4 millimetres (0.16 in) in diameter. The radial corallites are cylindrical, large and close together or touching, and project from the branches by up to 5 millimetres (0.20 in). Each has a distinct, large irregularly shaped opening near the tip. The colour of this coral is greenish, creamy or pale brown. This colour comes from minute symbiotic dinoflagellates known as zooxanthellae which live within the tissues of the coral polyps. These photosynthetic algae use sunlight to create organic compounds and the coral is able to use these to provide part of its nutritional needs. Fluorescent granules of pigment are present in the tissues and these are in greater concentrations in individuals growing in high-light environments. Isopora palifera closely resembles Isopora cuneata, and often has similar forms of growth, but I. cuneata mostly occurs in more eastern parts of the Pacific and in shallower water, and the holes in its conical-shaped radial corallites are circular in outline. In a study in ...
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