Saturday, August 19, 2017


Under construction

Goniastrea (Faviidae)

Welcome to the Goniastrea 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 or corallite structure similar to what you saw underwater. Then choose one of the following links for further comparison with similar genera: meandering, or cerioid corallites.

Like other members of the Faviidae family Goniastrea is widespread in the Indo-Pacific, exploiting a large range of environmental conditions.  Goniastrea however, has taken this one step further by dominating intertidal areas, where resistance to aerial exposure is vital.  Exposure is associated with an interesting array of skeletal modifications!

Vital Statistics

  • 13 species
  • Coral Finder p. 4c, 8, 8c, 13, 14
  • COTW – Vol 3 p.156-175


Widespread in the Indo-Pacific.

ID Tips

Goniastrea forms massive mounds, thick encrusting colonies or may tend towards columns.  Colonies are common in sub-tidal and some inter-tidal areas.

(slide show with photos of different growth forms)

The corallites of Goniastrea vary along a spectrum from single-mouth, rounded with shared walls through to multiple-mouth, weakly meandering with thin shared walls.  A key feature of Goniastrea is the paliform crown; a ring of skeletal teeth surrounding the columella.  Corallites are neat with fine, uniform septa.

(slide show with photos of different corallite forms)

Similar Genera

The Coral Finder lists Goniastrea with Favites, and Platygyra being potential sources of confusion.

Similar genera to meandering Goniastrea (Coral Finder p8)

Meandering forms of Goniastrea can be confused with Platygyra but are easily separated by the paliform crown typical of Goniastrea. Platygyra does not possess paliform lobes and the corallites are less regular and neat.

Meandering Goniastrea

Similar genus: Platygyra

Similar genera to cerioid Goniastrea (Coral Finder p13-14)

Identification issues may arise between Favites and Goniastrea where corallites are cerioid or sub-meandroid.  The Cerioid/Plocoid Learning Groups and Asexual Reproduction pages provide detailed descriptions and clear photos to assist in untangling any initial difficulties in identifying these genera.  Links for the Learning Groups  and Asexual Reproduction articles are provided in the Learning Resources section below.

Cerioid Goniastrea

Similar genus: Favites


The environmental tolerance of Goniastrea ensures that this genus dominates in intertidal reefal areas where many other corals cannot survive the stress of the cyclical aerial exposure of the tides.  Colonies may form ‘micro-atolls’ where the living band of tissue is limited to the flanks of the colony.

Taxonomic Changes

Learning Resources

Coral Hub

  • Faviidae family page
  • Cerioid/Plocoid Learning group
  • Asexual Reproduction


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.
  • 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. (1976). Biological results of the Snellius Expedition.  XXVII Faviidae collected by the Snellius Expedition.  II The genera Favites, Goniastrea, Platygyra, Oulophyllia, Leptoria, Hydnophora, and Caulastrea. Zoologische Mededelingen, 50, 45-63.

Suggested Reading – Other Topics

  • Babcock, R. C. (1984). Reproduction and distribution of 2 species of Goniastrea (Scleractinia) from the Great Barrier Reef Province. Coral Reefs, 2(4), 187-195.
  • Brown, B. E., Downs, C. A., Dunne, R. P., & Gibb, S. W. (2002). Exploring the basis of thermotolerance in the reef coral Goniastrea aspera. Marine Ecology-Progress Series, 242, 119-129.
  • 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.
  • Golbuu, Y., & Richmond, R. H. (2007). Substratum preferences in planula larvae of two species of scleractinian corals, Goniastrea retiformis and Stylaraea punctata. Marine Biology, 152(3), 639-644.
  • Kai, S., & Sakai, K. (2008). Effect of colony size and age on resource allocation between growth and reproduction in the corals Goniastrea aspera and Favites chinensis. Marine Ecology-Progress Series, 354, 133-139.
  • Kojis, B. L., & Quinn, N. J. (1981). Aspects of sexual reproduction and larval development in the shallow water hermatypic coral, Goniastrea australensis (Edwards and Haime, 1857). Bulletin of Marine Science, 31(3), 558-573.
  • Miller, K. J., & Mundy, C. N. (2005). In situ fertilisation success in the scleractinian coral Goniastrea favulus. Coral Reefs, 24(2), 313-317.
  • Nakano, Y., & Yamazato, K. (1986). Strategy and mechanisms of diel activity of contraction and expansion of polyps of a Faviid coral, Goniastrea aspera. Zoological Science, 3(6), 1101-1101.
  • Nakano, Y., & Yamazato, K. (1987). Mechanism of diel activity of contraction and expansion of a Faviid coral, Goniastrea aspera. Zoological Science, 4(6), 1109-1109.
  • Nishikawa, A., & Sakai, K. (2003). Genetic variation and gene flow of broadcast spawning and planula brooding coral, Goniastrea aspera (Scleractinia) in the Ryukyu Archipelago, southern Japan. Zoological Science, 20(8), 1031-1038.
  • Nishikawa, A., & Sakai, K. (2005). Genetic connectivity of the scleractinian coral Goniastrea aspera around the Okinawa Islands. Coral Reefs, 24(2), 318-323.
  • Nothdurft, L. D., & Webb, G. E. (2007). Microstructure of common reef-building coral genera Acropora, Pocillopora, Goniastrea and Porites: constraints on spatial resolution in geochemical sampling. Facies, 53(1), 1-26.
  • Nozawa, Y., & Harrison, P. L. (2005). Temporal settlement patterns of larvae of the broadcast spawning reef coral Favites chinensis and the broadcast spawning and brooding reef coral Goniastrea aspera from Okinawa, Japan. Coral Reefs, 24(2), 274-282.
  • Perry, C. T., & Smithers, S. G. (2009). Stabilisation of intertidal cobbles and gravels by Goniastrea aspera: an analogue for substrate colonisation during marine transgressions? Coral Reefs, 28(3), 805-806.
  • Sakai, K. (1998). Delayed maturation in the colonial coral Goniastrea aspera (Scleractinia): Whole-colony mortality, colony growth and polyp egg production. Researches on Population Ecology, 40(3), 287-292.
  • Sakai, K. (2005). Intraspecific contact and egg production in the massive coral Goniastrea aspera in Okinawa, subtropical Japan. Zoological Science, 22(6), 659-664.