Thursday, August 24, 2017


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Leptastrea (Faviidae)

Welcome to the Leptastrea 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: Goniastrea.

Leptastrea may not be as common as some of the other members of the Faviidae family but it makes up for quantity with quality.  The delicate structures of the corallite, particularly the intricate columella at the corallite centre are impressive and well worth a look beyond the cursory viewing needed for identification.

Vital Statistics

  • 7 species
  • Coral Finder p. 10c, 13
  • COTW – Vol 3 p.232-238


Commonly found in the Indo-Pacific.

ID Tips

As with many of the other members of the Faviidae family, Leptastrea forms massive or thick encrusting corallites.  It may be found across the reef zones, but in intertidal areas it tends to lose the darker colouration common in deeper waters.

Corallites of Leptastrea in general, share walls, although a shallow groove may be seen at the top of the wall giving the impression of plocoid (separate walls) corallites.  The corallites are shallow and quite angular in appearance.  The septa are thick and do not meet at the top of the walls.  The most interesting characteristic is the delicate, elaborate columella which may be seen most clearly in the laboratory.

(slide show with photos of structure of Leptastrea corallites and skeletal picture of columella)

Similar Genera

The Coral Finder lists Leptastrea in one key group with Goniastrea being a potential source of confusion.

Similar genera to Leptastrea (Coral Finder p13)

Identification issues can arise between Leptastrea and Goniastrea, but they may be differentiated by the thicker, bolder septa characteristic of LeptastreaGoniastrea has fine, neat septa that are less striking underwater.  The Cerioid/Plocoid Learning Groups page provides detailed descriptions and clear photos to assist in untangling any initial difficulties in identifying these genera.  Links for the Learning Groups are provided in the Learning Resources section below.


Similar genus: Goniastrea


Similar to Montastrea, evidence of polychaete worms may often be seen on the surface of Leptastrea colonies where a pattern of thin tubes are observed.

Taxonomic Changes

Learning Resources

Coral Hub

  • Faviidae family page


Suggested Reading – Identification Tools

  • Chevalier, J. P. (1975). Les scleractiniaires de la Melanesie Francaise.  II Expedition Francaise sur les recifs coralliens de la Nouvelle-Caledonie. Paris: Singer-Polignac.
  • 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. (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

  • 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.