Wednesday, September 20, 2017


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Echinopora (Faviidae)

Welcome to the Echinopora 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 identify a growth form similar to what you saw underwater. Then choose one of the following links for further information: branching, or plating/ vase-like.

Vital Statistics

  • 12 species
  • Coral Finder p. 4, 17, 19, 20c, 23
  • COTW – Vol 3 p.252-268


Widespread in the Indo-Pacific.

ID Tips

Echinopora colonies develop into a wide range of growth forms (branching, mound, plating, and vase).  In some instances a single colony may exhibit more than one growth form, where branching sections develop from a basal plate.  Generally colonies are limited to shallow reef areas, particularly where conditions are protected.

(slide show with photos of different growth forms of Echinopora)

Despite the array of growth forms, the structures of the colony surface are distinctive and easily recognisable.  The corallites may be untidy or regular.  Between the corallites rows of fine spines run forming ridge like or beaded costae.  These beaded costae may continue in clear lines to the colony edge in some of the more regular species.

(slide show with photos of different forms of costae – beaded to ridge like)

Similar Genera

The Coral Finder lists Echinopora in four key groups with Astreopora, Echinophyllia, and to a lesser extent Acropora, Turbinaria, Oxypora, and Mycedium being possible candidates for confusion.

Similar genera to branching Echinopora (Coral Finder p4 and 23)

Branching Echinopora can be confused with Acropora, but may be easily separated by the axial and radial corallite arrangement that characterises AcroporaEchinopora lacks axial corallites.

Branching Echinopora

Similar genus: Acropora

Similar genera to plating or vase-like Echinopora (Coral Finder p17&19)

At first glance the beaded costae of Echinopora, may look like the ragged spinules of Astreopora but these genera may be separated by the more defined corallites of Astreopora.  Similarly the costate pattern of Echinophyllia, Mycedium and Oxypora may be confused with that of Echinopora, however, the costae of Echinopora are less developed than those of the other three genera resulting in clearly beaded structures unlike the more solid, defined costae that are found on Echinophyllia, Mycedium and Oxypora.  Finally Tubinaria forms into a similar plating growth form, but the smooth colony surface is distinctly different from the patterned surface of Echinopora.

Plating or vase like Echinopora

Similar genus: Astreopora

Similar genus: Echinophyllia

Similar genus: Mycedium

Similar genus: Oxypora

Similar genus: Turbinaria


Taxonomic Changes

Learning Resources

Coral Hub

  • Faviidae family page


Suggested Reading – Identification Tools

  • Chen, C. L. A. (1999). Analysis of scleractinian distribution in Taiwan indicating a pattern congruent with sea surface temperatures and currents: Examples from Acropora and Faviidae corals. Zoological Studies, 38(2), 119-129.
  • Chevalier, J. P. (1975). Les scleractiniaires de la Melanesie Francaise.  II Expedition Francaise sur les recifs coralliens de la Nouvelle-Caledonie. Paris: Singer-Polignac.
  • 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. (2002). New species described in ‘Corals of the World’: 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.
  • Wijsman-Best, M. (1980). Indo-pacific coral species belonging to the subfamily Montastreinae Vaughan and Wells, 1943 (Scleractiia, Coelenterata). Part II: The genera Cyphastrea, Leptastrea, Echinopora and Diploastrea. Zoologische Mededelingen, 55, 235-263.

Suggested Reading – Other Topics

  • Fan, T. Y., & Dai, C. F. (1999). Reproductive plasticity in the reef coral Echinopora lamellosa. Marine Ecology-Progress Series, 190, 297-301.
  • Iwase, A., Sakai, K., Suzuki, A., & van Woesik, R. (2008). Phototropic adjustment of the foliaceous coral Echinopora lamellosa in Palau. Estuarine Coastal and Shelf Science, 77(4), 672-678.
  • Mangubhai, S. (2009). Reproductive ecology of the scleractinian corals Echinopora gemmacea and Leptoria phrygia (Faviidae) on equatorial reefs in Kenya. Invertebrate Reproduction & Development, 53(2), 67-79.