Hard Coral Taxonomy & Identification

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Identifying corals according to taxonomic descriptions (family, genus, and species) is an important part of any advanced coral reef monitoring program, and is also a requirement for most biological or peer-reviewed research studies.

Identifying corals to their taxonomic levels can provide important information such as:

  • Biodiversity of corals in an area
  • Changes in coral diversity over time
  • Identifying target research species
  • Monitoring threats such as predation, bleaching, or diseases; all of which will affect various species in different ways
  • Monitoring corals for spawning and other advanced research or restoration projects
  • Identifying rare or endangered species of coral
  • Improving our understanding of coral population dynamics and changes

Not only is identifying corals important, many students also find it a challenging and rewarding process that gives them a better understanding of the reef.

To date, over 1,604 coral species have been described, and it is estimated that there may be as many as 3,000 species on the planet today. No matter where you dive in the future, identifying coral species can easily become a lifelong passion for those who take the time to learn the basics of coral taxonomy.

This course serves as an introduction to coral identification and taxonomy. Students participating in this course will learn:

  • How to identify corals underwater based on their anatomical features, and on land based on their skeletal features
  • Tips and tricks to remembering the names and how to ID them underwater
  • How to ID the most common species in your area, and have the tools to learn the species wherever you dive next.

Ecological Monitoring Program Manual

Indo-Pacific Region:

Coral Finder by BYOGuides.com

Caribbean/Western Atlantic Region

Conservation Diver's Guide to Caribbean Corals

Course created by Chad Scott

Review and additional contributions by Ekouise Haskin and Melissa Wagner

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