Thursday, August 24, 2017


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Caulastrea (Faviidae)

Welcome to the Caulastrea 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, use the image browser below to verify what you saw underwater. Then click on the following link for further comparison with a similar genus: Lobophyllia.

Despite the Faviidae’s reputation as one of the most taxonomically complicated groups, this family does throw one or two genera into the mix that are more clear cut to identify.  Caulastrea forms distinct colonies where corallites grow on the end of short almost parallel stalks (phaceloid).  Check out the article Corallite Arrangement for more information on phaceloid and other colony forms.

Vital Statistics

  • 5 species
  • Coral Finder p. 6
  • COTW – Vol 3 p.91-97


May be locally common in the Indo-Pacific.

ID Tips

Caulastrea colonies are composed of corallites arranged on short stalks forming a distinctive morphology.  However, there are exceptions to most rules where corals are concerned; Caulastrea tumida may be plocoid rather than phaceloid, so the corallites still have separate walls but they are not tubular.

The corallites may have more than one mouth forming short meandering valleys.  The thick septa push up through the flesh producing a pale striped appearance in some species.

(photos of phaceloid arrangement)

The thick septa are characteristic of the Faviidae family.

Similar Genera

The Coral Finder lists Caulastrea in one key group with Lobophyllia.

Similar genera to Caulastrea (Coral Finder p6)

Caulastrea can be confused with small Lobophyllia species, but may be separated by examining the septa.  Caulastrea possess thick, smooth septa like other members of the Faviidae species, whereas Lobophyllia has large spiky septal teeth that may be felt through the tissue.  In addition the living tissue of the colony extends down the sides of the tubular Caulastrea corallites providing contact between neighbouring corallites, unlike in Lobophyllia where corallites are separated by bare skeleton.


Similar genus: Lobophyllia


Taxonomic Changes

Learning Resources

Coral Hub

  • Faviidae family page
  • Corallite Arrangement


Suggested Reading – Identification Tools

  • Huang, D. W., Meier, R., Todd, P. A., & Chou, L. M. (2009). More evidence for pervasive paraphyly in scleractinian corals: Systematic study of Southeast Asian Faviidae (Cnidaria; Scleractinia) based on molecular and morphological data. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 50(1), 102-116.
  • 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., Pichon, M., & Wijsman-Best, M. (1977). Scleractinia of Eastern Australia.  Part 2, Families Faviidae, Trachyphyllidae. Australian Institute of Marine Science Monograph Series, III, 233.
  • Wijsman-Best, M. (1972). Systematics and ecology of New Caldedonian Faviidae (Coelenterata Scleractinia). Bijdragen Dierkunde, 42, 1-90.

Suggested Reading – Other Topics