Welcome to the Alveopora genus landing page. In this section, you will find general information about this genus and tips on how to identify it. If you are looking to confirm an observation made with the Coral Finder about an Alveopora with extended tentacles, use the image browser below to identify a genus similar to what you saw underwater. Then choose one of the following links for further comparison with similar genera: Goniopora, or soft corals.
You may have noticed the tiny feeding appendages of barnacles wafting around above the surface of a coral colony, before shooting back into a protective home within the colony skeleton. Research has shown how the barnacles end up buried within the colonies of Alveopora: the barnacle settles on the coral surface smothering the polyp underneath, then the coral grows up around the barnacle. But contrary to popular belief, this isn’t mutualism or commensalism, the barnacle appears to be a parasite, reducing the reproductive capacity of the polyps neighbouring it. For more information read Thamrin et al., (2001) from the suggested reading list below.
- 14 species
- Coral Finder p. 4, 27, 28c
- COTW – Vol 3 p. 380-397
Currently found in the Indo-Pacific
Alveopora may form massive or branching colonies. These growth-forms are often masked by flower-like polyps that sit at the end of long wafting tubes, resulting in an organism that looks more like a soft coral than the hard, solid appearance typical of scleractinians. Colonies of different species tend to be found in distinct reef and rocky environments.
The polyp mouths are ringed by a circle of 12 tentacles. The polyp shape, size and colour can be used to identify species, and as a result this is one of the few groupings that is easier to differentiate underwater than from the bleached skeleton.
When the polyps retract, the hard colony surface is revealed, exposing small corallites with shared walls that are similar to other members of the Poritidae family.
The Coral Finder lists Alveopora in two key groups with Goniopora being the main candidate for confusion.
Similar genera to Goniopora with tentacles extended (Coral Finder p27)
The long, wafting polyps of Alveopora are similar to those of Goniopora. These two genera can easily be separated by counting the number of tentacles ringing the mouth of the polyp: Goniopora has 24 tentacles and Alveopora has 12. If uncertainty arises over whether you are looking at Alveopora or a soft coral, waft you hand over the extended polyps; if they retract to expose the hard skeleton, identification as Alveopora will be certain.
Alveopora with tentacles extended
Similar genus: Goniopora
Similar group: Soft corals
- Poritidae family page
Suggested Reading – Identification Tools
- Davie, P. J., & Phillips, J. A. (2009). 13th International Marine Biological Workshop, The Marine Fauna and Flora of Moreton Bay, Queensland. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum, 54(2), 1-118.
- Veron, J. E. N. (1985). Corals of Australia and the Indo-Pacific. Sydney: Angus and Robertson.
- Veron, J. E. N. (2000). Corals of the World. Melbourne: Australian Institute of Marine Science.
- Veron, J. E. N. (2002). New species described in ‘Corals of the World’: Australian Institute of Marine Science.
- Veron, J. E. N., & Pichon, M. (1982). Scleractinia of Eastern Australia. Part 4, Families Poritidae. Australian Institute of Marine Science Monograph Series, V, 210.
- Wells, J. W. (1968). Notes on Indo-Pacific scleractinian corals. 5. A new species of Alveopora from New Caledonia. 6. Further note on Bantamia merleti Wells. Pacific Science, 22(2), 274.
Suggested Reading – Other Topics
- Glynn, P. W., Colley, S. B., Eakin, C. M., Smith, D. B., Cortes, J., Gassman, N. J., et al. (1994). Reef coral reproduction in the Eastern Pacific – Costa Rica, Panama, and Galapagos Islands (Ecuador). 2. Poritidae. Marine Biology, 118(2), 191-208.
- Harii, S., Omori, M., Yamakawa, H., & Koike, Y. (2001). Sexual reproduction and larval settlement of the zooxanthellate coral Alveopora japonica Eguchi at high latitudes. Coral Reefs, 20(1), 19-23.
- Thamrin, Tokeshi, M., & Nojima, S. (2001). Effect of coral-inhabiting barnacle (Cantellius pallidus) on planula production in a scleractinian coral Alveopora japonica. Ophelia, 55(2), 93-100.