Wednesday, September 20, 2017


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Merulina (Merulinidae)

Welcome to the Merulina 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.

Vital Statistics

  • 3 species
  • Coral Finder p. 8, 16c, 22c
  • COTW – Vol 2 p. 376-381


Widespread in the Indo-Pacific.

ID Tips

Colonies of Merulina form into plates of variable thickness, or in some species, these plates may have upgrowths producing a mixed growth form.  Merulina may be found in an array of reef environments although two of the three species prefer shallower areas and Merulina scheeri is predominantly found in overhanging areas.

(slide show with photos of plates and mixed growth form)

The corallites are indistinct, hidden within short dividing valleys that fan out towards the colony margin.  The ridges separating the valleys resemble uneven zippers.

The fused skeletal structures are typical of the Merulinidae family.

Similar Genera

The Coral Finder lists Merulina in one key group, but the distinctive combination of plating and columnar upgrowths and the narrow fanning valleys make this easy to differentiate from other meandering corals.


As with members of other genera, some species of Merulina are adapted to turbid environments.   Studies into Merulina ampliata in particular, have highlighted a coral that is adapted to turbid waters and the resulting low-light and sediment loading these conditions provide.  For the very latest information have a read of Dikou (2009) in the suggested reading list below.

Taxonomic Changes

Learning Resources

Coral Hub

  • Merulinidae family page


Suggested Reading – Identification Tools

  • Best, M. B., & Suharsono. (1991). New observations on scleractinian corals from Indonesia. 3 species belonging to the Merulinidae with new records from Merulina and Boninastrea. Zoologische Mededelingen, 65, 333-342.
  • Chevalier, J. P. (1975). Les scleractiniaires de la Melanesie Francaise.  II Expedition Francaise sur les recifs coralliens de la Nouvelle-Caledonie. Paris: Singer-Polignac.
  • Head, S. M. (1983). An undescribed species of Merulina and a new genus and species of Siderastreid coral from the Red Sea. Journal of Natural History, 17(3), 419-435.
  • 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., & 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

  • Dikou, A. (2009). Skeletal linear extension rates of the foliose scleractinian coral Merulina ampliata (Ellis & Solander, 1786) in a turbid environment. Marine Ecology-an Evolutionary Perspective, 30(4), 405-415.
  • Fan, T. Y., & Dai, C. F. (1998). Sexual reproduction of the scleractinian coral Merulina ampliata in southern Taiwan. Bulletin of Marine Science, 62(3), 897-904.
  • Humes, A. G. (1974). Cyclopoid copepods associated with coral genera Favia, Favites, Favites, Platygyra, and Merulina in New Caledonia. Pacific Science, 28(4), 383-399.