A phylogenetically based comparative analysis of onshore-offshore distribution patterns of mushroom coral species (Scleractinia: Fungiidae) was made to reconstruct an evolutionary scenario for differentiation in fungiid shelf habitats. This phyloecological study integrates data on fungiid distribution patterns along environmental gradients on the Spermonde Shelf, SW Sulawesi, with a recently published phylogeny reconstruction of the Fungiidae. A mushroom coral fauna of 34 species was used to compare their distributions by use of 50-m2 belt quadrats in transects (1) from the mainland to the shelf edge, (2) around reefs with regard to predominant wind directions, and (3) over bathymetrical reef zones. Species association ordinations were made for each of the four shelf zones using both abundance and incidence data to examine whether closely related species cooccurred. Some closely related species or even sister species appeared to show very similar distribution patterns and to coexist in high abundances. These results indicate that there may not be community saturation and competitive exclusion amongmushroom corals species, most of which are free-living. In reconstructions of fungiid habitat evolution, offshore reef slopes appear to be original (ancestral), whereas onshore habitats, shallow reef flats, and deep sandy reef bases seem to be derived. The latter is in contrast with an earlier hypothesis, in which deep sandy substrates were considered ancestral mushroom coral habitats.

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Contributions to Zoology

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Naturalis journals & series

Hoeksema, B. (2012). Evolutionary trends in onshore-offshore distribution patterns of mushroom coral species (Scleractinia: Fungiidae). Contributions to Zoology, 81(4), 199–221.