Gorgonian Morphology

Welcome. This page is currently in progress and will be completed by the end of December 2021.  Please feel free to contact me with any questions, otherwise relevant publications can be found below. Thank you for your patience and please return for updates soon.

When complete, this page will outline Gorgonian octocorals, their highly variable phenotypes and how I am fascinated by, and use them to, study various aspects of biological evolution. Biological evolution by means of natural selection, is the theory of first principles in action: the constant betterment of an individual design in order to enhance its function and maximise survival through fitness. 


Gorgonians are colonial sessile (i.e., not mobile) marine organisms that can be highly responsive (therefore plastic) to changes in their environment. This plasticity, or flexibility, is because of their hierarchical modularity. This modularity network enables natural selection to act upon traits or a combination of traits within the network, which may or may not, in time, become fixed (see morphology). 


Research Publications

Rowley SJ (2018) Acclimatory capacity of the Gorgonian Isis hippuris Linnaeus, 1758 to environmental change in SE Sulawesi, Indonesia. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology & Ecology. 500: 73–88. DOI:org/10.1016/j.jembe.2017.12.012                             

Rowley SJ, Pochon X. Watling L (2015) Environmental influences on the Indo-Pacific gorgonian Isis hippuris Linnaeus, 1758 (Alcyonacea: Isididae): genetic fixation or phenotypic plasticity? PeerJ 3:e1128; DOI:10.7717/peerj.1128           

Rowley SJ (2014) Gorgonian responses to environmental change on coral reefs in SE Sulawesi, Indonesia. Doctoral thesis, Victoria University Wellington, New Zealand, pp. 213. DOI:10.13140/RG.2.1.5126.7682