Saturday, August 19, 2017


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Isopora (Acroporidae)

Welcome to the Isopora 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. The nature of this genus is highly distinctive, which means that it is unlikely to confuse it with other members of the group.

Isopora was once considered to be a subgenus of Acropora, indeed if you try and reference Isopora in COTW; you will find it sitting within the Acropora pages.  It is found throughout the Indo-Pacific but recent examination of Caribbean fossils shows that it was once found in the Atlantic as well.  This finding has provided a novel insight into the biogeography of corals in the Atlantic and Indo-Pacific.  See Budd & Wallace, (2008) in the reading list below, for more information.

Vital Statistics

  • 7 species
  • Coral Finder p. 4, 17c, 28
  • COTW – Vol 1 p.184-193 and 198-199


Widespread in Indo-Pacific.

ID Tips

Acropora generally forms branching, columnar or plating colonies.  Be aware however that young colonies may be encrusting as the base will form prior to any branches growing up and out.

Some species possess axial corallites, surrounded by radial corallites.  However there are some differences to the axial corallites of Acropora; Isopora may have more than one axial corallite at the end of the branch or column, and the axial corallites may be indistinct or grade gradually into the surrounding radial corallites.

(slide show with photos of axial and radial corallites, encrusting forms with clear axial corallites)

Similar Genera

The Coral Finder lists Isopora in two key groups but the distinctive rounded corallites and irregular arrangement makes this genus distinctive.


Taxonomic Changes

For more information on the separation of the genus Isopora from Acropora (see COTW p.184), have a read of Wallace et al. 2007 in the suggested reading list below.

Learning Resources

Coral Hub

  • Acroporidae 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.
  • Fukami, H., Omori, M., & Hatta, M. (2000). Phylogenetic relationships in the coral family Acroporidae, reassessed by inference from mitochondrial genes. Zoological Science, 17(5), 689-696.
  • van Oppen, M. J. H., McDonald, B. J., Willis, B., & Miller, D. J. (2001). The Evolutionary History of the Coral Genus Acropora (Scleractinia, Cnidaria) Based on a Mitochondrial and a Nuclear Marker: Reticulation, Incomplete Lineage Sorting, or Morphological Convergence? Mol Biol Evol, 18(7), 1315-1329.
  • 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., & Wallace, C. C. (1984). Scleractinia of Eastern Australia.  Part 5, Family Acroporidae.
  • Wallace, C. C. (1997). Scleractinia of Taiwan. IV Review of the coral genus Acropora from Taiwan. Zoological Studies, 36, 288-324.
  • Wallace, C. C. (2008). New species and records from the Eocene of England and France support early diversification of the coral genus Acropora. Journal of Palaeontology, 82(2), 313-328.
  • Wallace, C. C., Chen, C. A., Fukami, H., & Muir, P. R. (2007). Recognition of separate genera within Acropora based on new morphological, reproductive and genetic evidence from Acropora togianensis, and elevation of the subgenus Isopora Studer, 1878 to genus (Scleractinia : Astrocoeniidae; Acroporidae). Coral Reefs, 26(2), 231-239.
  • Wallace, C. C., & Wolstenholme, J. (1998). Revision of the coral genus Acropora (Scerlactinia: Astrocoeniina: Acroporidae) from Indonesia. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 123, 199-384.

Suggested Reading – Other Topics

  • Budd, A. & Wallace, C.C. (2008).  First record of the Indo-Pacific reef coral genus Isopora in the Caribbean: Two new species from the Neogene of the Curacao, Netherlands Antilles.  Palaeontology, 51(6), 1387-1401.