by A.F. Budd and K.G. Johnson

Diagram showing general corallite morphology


List of Morphologic Characters included in NMITA

Click on the character name to see definitions and character states. Characters are grouped into eight major categories.

A. The colony or corallum (the entire skeletal unit housing a corallite or group of corallites)

1.  Colony form (ID tool character #1)
2.  Colony shape (ID tool character #2), colony shape (Family Poritidae)
3.  Colony size
4.  Attachment of skeleton
5.  Branch distance
6.  Corallite distribution (Family Poritidae)
7.  Colony surface
8.  Epitheca
9.  Colline Characteristics
10  a.  Centers per series
      b.  Series length
11.  Meandering series sinuosity



B. Budding (formation of new individuals within a colony)

1.  Budding type (ID tool character #3)
2.  Wall development between buds
3.  Symmetry of bud geometry



C. The corallite (a solitary individual or an individual within a colony)

1.  Calice or valley width, calice diameter (Family Poritidae)
2.  Calice relief, calice elevation (Family Poritidae)
3.  Calice shape (surface)
4.  Calicular platform shape
5.  Calice rim
6.  Axial and Radial Corallite Characteristics



D. The coenosteum or peritheca (skeleton between corallites within a colony)

1.  Coenosteum
2.  Internal coenosteum texture
3.  Coenosteum surface
4.  Exothecal dissepiments



E. The septa and costae (radial elements within corallites)

1.  Number of septal cycles, total number of septa per corallite, total number of septa per corallite (Family Poritidae), or number of major septa per corallite
2.  Septal spacing
3.  Continuity of the septa between adjacent corallites
4.  Relative septa thickness
5.  Septal margins
6.  Number of cycles of costae
7.  Relative costae thickness
8.  Continuity of costae
9.  Septal and paliform lobes (ID tool character #7)
10.  Number of pali (Family Poritidae)
11.  Palar ring (Family Poritidae)
12.  Costa development



F. The columella (the axial structure within a corallite)

1.  Columella structure (ID tool character #4)
2.  Columella width
3.  Columella development
(Family Poritidae)


G. Synapticulae and endothecal dissepiments (horizontal structures within a corallite)

1.  Synapticulae
2.  Endothecal dissepiments



H. The wall or theca (skeleton enclosing a corallite)

1.  Wall structure (ID tool character #6)
2.  Double or single wall, wall reticulum (Family Poritidae)
3.  Wall characteristics


Glossary of Coral Morphologic Terms: Global Revision of the Families Faviidae and Mussidae


Modified in part after: Beauvais, L., C. Chaix, B. Lathuilère, and H. Löser, 1993. Morphological terms for describing Scleractinia: A preliminary list. Fossil Cnidaria & Porifera Newsletter 22: 50-65

Last updated on June 25, 2003- eek.