Wednesday, September 20, 2017


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Lobophyllia (Mussidae)

Welcome to the Lobophyllia 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.

Lobophyllia provides an interesting mid-point on the spectrum between individual and colonial corals.  After the larvae settle they form colonies, but as the colony grows, the tissue separating the polyps dies leaving a structurally attached series of solitary corals that are genetic clones.  Research into the interaction between these individual polyps suggests that although in normal conditions there is no transfer between neighboroughing polyps, when an individual is damaged, transfer of carbon may occur from surrounding polyps (Brickner et al., 2006 provides more information).

Vital Statistics

  • 9 species
  • Coral Finder p. 6
  • COTW – Vol 3 p.38-51


Widespread in the Indo-Pacific.

ID Tips

Lobophyllia forms mounds that may be dome-shaped or flat topped.  Colonies are generally found in shallower reef environments, particularly along the upper slope.  Some species are very common and may form large conspicuous colonies or groups of colonies.

The corallites have separate walls and are phaceloid (grow on short tubes) or flabello-meadroid (form meanders but neighbouring valleys have separate walls).  The corallites are covered by a thick fleshy mantle that hides most of the skeletal structures, but the large spiky septal teeth may be felt through the tissue.  The fleshy mantle produces a carpet-like texture that may conceal the separate corallite walls.

The thick fleshy mantle and spiky septa are common to all members of the Mussidae.

(slide show with photos of fleshy polyps)

Similar Genera

The Coral Finder lists Lobophyllia in one key group with other meandering colonies with separate corallite walls (CF p. 6), but the fleshy polyps of Lobophyllia are distinctive, making identification straight forward.


Taxonomic Changes

Learning Resources

Coral Hub

  • Mussidae family page


Suggested Reading – Identification Tools

  • Budd, A. F., & Stolarski, J. (2009). Searching for new morphological characters in the systematics of scleractinian reef corals: comparison of septal teeth and granules between Atlantic and Pacific Mussidae. Acta Zoologica, 90(2), 142-165.
  • 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.
  • 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. (1980). Scleractinia of Eastern Australia.  Part 3, Families Agaraciidae, Siderastreidae, Fungiidae, Oculinidae, Merulinidae, Mussidae, Pectiniidae, Carophylliidae, Dendrophylliidae. Australian Institute of Marine Science Monograph Series, IV, 471.

Suggested Reading – Other Topics

  • Brickner, I., Oren, U., Frank, U., & Loya, Y. (2006). Energy integration between the solitary polyps of the clonal coral Lobophyllia corymbosa. Journal of Experimental Biology, 209(9), 1690-1695.
  • Maynard, J. A. (2008). Severe anchor damage to Lobophyllia variegata colonies on the Fujikawa Maru, Truk Lagoon, Micronesia. Coral Reefs, 27(2), 273-273.