IUCN threat status:

Endangered (EN)


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Montastraea annularis

Montastraea annularis at Molasses Reef, Florida Keys

Montastraea annularis, commonly known as the boulder star coral, is a species of coral that lives in the western Atlantic Ocean and is the most thoroughly studied and most abundant species of reef-building coral in the Caribbean to date.[1] It also has a comprehensive fossil record within the Caribbean.[2][3] This species complex has long been considered a generalist that exists at depths between 0 and 80 meters[4] that grew into varying colony shapes (heads, columns, plates) in response to differing light conditions.[5] Only recently with the help of molecular techniques has M. annularis been shown to be a complex of at least three separate species.[6][7][8] Those species are divided into M. annularis, M. faveolata, and M. franksi.

A related species is M. cavernosa, which has larger polyps.


  1. ^ Dawson, J. P. 2006. "Quantifying the colony shape of the Montastraea annularis species complex." Coral Reefs. Vol. 25:383-389.
  2. ^ Budd, A. F.; Stemann, T. A.; Johnson, K. G. 1994. "Stratigraphic distributions of Neogene to recent Caribbean coral reefs." J Paleontol. Vol. 68:951-977.
  3. ^ Budd, A. F.; Klaus, J. S. The origin and early evolution of the Montastraea 'annularis' species complex (Anthozoa: Scleractinia)." J Paleontol. Vol. 75:527-545.
  4. ^ Connell, J. H. 1978. "Diversity in tropical rain forests and coral reefs." Science. Vol. 199:1302-1310.
  5. ^ Graus, R. R.; Macintyre, I. G. 1976. "Control of form in colonial corals: computer simulation." Science. Vol. 193:895-897.
  6. ^ Knowlton, N.; Weil, E.; Weigt, L. A.; Guzman, G. M. 1992. "Sibling species of Montastraea annularis, coral bleaching, and the coral climate record." Science. Vol. 255:330-333.
  7. ^ Weil, E.; Knowlton, N. 1994. "A multi-character analysis of the Caribbean coral Montastraea annularis (Ellis and Solander 1786) and its two sibling species, M. faveolata (Ellis and Solander 1786) and M. franksi (Gregory 1895)." Bulletin of Marine Science. Vol. 55:151-175.
  8. ^ Knowlton, N.; Budd, A. F. 2001. "Recognizing coral species present and past. In: Jackson JBC, Lidgard, S.; McKinney, F. K. (eds) "Evolutionary Patterns: growth, form, and tempo in the fossil record"


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