Saturday, August 19, 2017


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Montastrea (Faviidae)

Welcome to the Montastrea 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 genus similar to what you saw underwater. Then choose one of the following links for further comparison with similar genera: Favia, or Barabattoia.

With a bit of practice, Montastrea is easy to differentiate from other similar members of the Faviidae family.  But initially confusions may arise, so a few generalised features of Montastrea are provided below, but once you have read this entry we suggest that you head straight to the Learning Groups page where further descriptions and plenty of clear photos will set you well on your way to untangling the initial difficulties in identifying genera within the Faviidae.  Links for the Learning Groups are provided in the Learning Resources section below.

Vital Statistics

  • 10 species
  • Coral Finder p. 10, 11
  • COTW – Vol 3 p.212-225


Widespread in the Atlantic and Indo-Pacific.

ID Tips

Montastrea forms massive or thick encrusting colonies, and in the Indo-Pacific tends to be found in shallow reef waters, although the odd species are found in deeper slope areas.

Corallites of Montastrea each contain one mouth, have their own walls, and are characterised by alternating septa; thicker septa interspersed with finer ones.  Polyps within the colony predominantly reproduce through extra-tentacular budding, where new corallites bud off from the outside surface of the wall.  This produces an overcrowded appearance in the colony as corallites become packed very close together.  Check out the Asexual Reproduction article listed in the Learning Resources section below, for more information.

(slide show with photos of extra-tentacular budding in montastrea)

Similar Genera

The Coral Finder lists Montastrea within one key group, with other members of the Faviidae family.

Similar genera to Montastrea (Coral Finder p10-11)

Identification issues may arise between Montastrea, Favia and Barabattoia where corallites are clearly plocoid.  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.


Similar genus: Favia

Similar genus: Barabattoia


An interesting pattern of tubes may be seen on the surface of Montastrea colonies where polychaete worms have set up home and formed thin tubular cavities.

Taxonomic Changes

The taxonomy of Montastrea is not clear cut, with regional variations forming apparent sub-species.  More work is needed to sort out some of these confusions.

Learning Resources

Coral Hub

  • Faviidae family page
  • Cerioid/Plocoid Learning Group
  • Intratentacular vs. Extratentacular


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.
  • Hodgson, G. (1985). A new species of Montastrea (Cnidaria, Scleractinia) from the Philippines. Pacific Science, 39(3), 283-290.
  • 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. (1977). Indo-pacific coral species belonging to the subfamily Montastreinae Vaughan and Wells, 1943 (Scleractiia, Coelenterata). Part I: The genera Montastrea and Plesiastrea. Zoologische Mededelingen, 52, 81-97.

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.
  • Lester, R. T., & Bak, R. P. M. (1985). Effects of environment on regeneration rate of tissue lesions in the reef coral Montastrea annularis (Scleractinia). Marine Ecology-Progress Series, 24(1-2), 183-185.
  • Saenger, C., Cohen, A. L., Oppo, D. W., & Hubbard, D. (2008). Interpreting sea surface temperature from strontium/calcium ratios in Montastrea corals: Link with growth rate and implications for proxy reconstructions. Paleoceanography, 23(3).