Wednesday, September 20, 2017


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Pavona (Agariciidae)

Welcome to the Pavona 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 on a Pavona with flowing septocostae, 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: Leptoseris, Psammocora, and Coscinaraea.

A quick flick through the Coral Finder shows the wide range of form and colour variations that Pavona exhibits.  But superimposed on these differing forms are the characteristic septocostae that flow between neighbouring corallites producing delicate flower-like patterns with the polyp mouth at the centre.  It has been suggested that the name Pavona derived from the Latin for peacock, is related to these flower-like patterns, which are similar to the tail feathers of a peacock!

Vital Statistics

  • 14 species
  • Coral Finder p. 7, 12, 16c, 20, 21, 22, 28
  • COTW – Vol 2 p. 178-201


Widespread in the Indo-Pacific.

ID Tips

Pavona exhibits nearly the full range of morphologies: meandering, massive, leafy, plating and columnar.  Growth form varies widely in response to changing environmental conditions.

(slide show with photos of different growth forms)

The combination of no clearly defined corallite walls and clear septocostae which flow from one corallite to the next produce a flower-like pattern over the colony surface.  Corallites are immersed and may be grouped in depressions between ridges or folds in the colony surface.  Leafy or plating species tend to be bifacial.

The lack of corallite walls, and flowing septocostae are typical of the family Agariciidae.

Similar Genera

The Coral Finder lists Pavona within four key groups with other members of the Agariciidae and Siderastreidae families that also exhibit flowing septocostae; Leptoseris, Psammocora, and Coscinaraea.  The Septocostae 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 genera to Pavona (Coral Finder p7, 12, 20-22, 28)


Similar genus: Leptoseris

Similar genus: Psammacora

Similar genus: Coscinaraea


Taxonomic Changes

Learning Resources

Coral Hub

  • Agariciidae family page
  • Septocostae learning group


Suggested Reading – Identification Tools

  • Dai, C.-F., & Lin, C.-H. (1992). Scleractinia of Taiwan: III. Family Agariciidae. Acta Oceanographica Taiwanica, 0(28), 80-101.
  • 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.
  • Glynn, P. W., Mate, J. L., & Stemann, T. A. (2001). Pavona chiriquiensis, a new species of zooxanthellate scleractinian coral (Cnidaria: Anthozoa: Agariciidae) from the eastern tropical Pacific. Bulletin of the Biological Society of Washington(10), 210-225.
  • Mate, J. L. (2003). Ecological, genetic, and morphological differences among three Pavona (Cnidaria : Anthozoa) species from the Pacific coast of Panama. Marine Biology, 142(3), 427-440.
  • Raghuram, K. P., & Venkataraman, K. (2005). A new record of the coral Pavona venosa (Ehrenberg, 1834) (Scleractinia, Agariciidae) from Anaipar Island, Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society, 102(3), 358-359.
  • 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.

Suggested Reading – Other Topics

  • Ayre, D. J., & Willis, B. L. (1988). Population structure in the coral Pavona cactus clonal genotypes show little phenotypic plasticity. Marine Biology, 99(4), 495-505.
  • Gateno, D., Leon, A., Barki, Y., Cortes, J., & Rinkevich, B. (2003). Skeletal tumor formations in the massive coral Pavona clavus. Marine Ecology-Progress Series, 258, 97-108.
  • Glynn, P. W., Colley, S. B., Gassman, N. J., Black, K., Cortes, J., & Mate, J. L. (1996). Reef coral reproduction in the eastern Pacific: Costa Rica, Panama, and Galapagos Islands (Ecuador) .3. Agariciidae (Pavona gigantea and Gardineroseris planulata). Marine Biology, 125(3), 579-601.
  • Glynn, P. W., Colley, S. B., Ting, J. H., Mate, J. L., & Guzman, H. M. (2000). Reef coral reproduction in the eastern Pacific: Costa Rica, Panama and Galapagos Islands (Ecuador). IV. Agariciidae, recruitment and recovery of Pavona varians and Pavona sp.a. Marine Biology, 136(5), 785-805.
  • Humes, A. G. (1994). Two species of Paramolgus (Copepoda: Poecilostomatoida: Lichomolgidae) associated with the Scleractinian Pavona in New Caledonia with a key to females of Paramolgus. Beaufortia, 44(1), 1-9.
  • Sunagawa, S., Cortes, J., Jimenez, C., & Lara, R. (2008). Variation in cell densities and pigment concentrations of symbiotic dinoflagellates in the coral Pavona clavus in the eastern Pacific (Costa Rica). Ciencias Marinas, 34(2), 113-123.
  • Suwa, R., Hirose, M., & Hidaka, M. (2008). Seasonal fluctuation in zooxanthellar genotype composition and photophysiology in the corals Pavona divaricata and P-decussata. Marine Ecology-Progress Series, 361, 129-137.
  • Tsuchiya, M., Nakasone, Y., & Nishihira, M. (1986). Community structure of coral associated invertebrates of the hermatypic coral Pavona frondifera in the Gulf of Thailand. Galaxea, 5(1), 129-140.