species: Acropora gemmifera in Lizard Island Field Guide (Lizard Island Field Guide)
Acropora gemmifera

©Andy Lewis: A colony of Acropora gemmifera showing a pale brown colouration and typical short compact branches with large axial polyps

©Andy Lewis: Macro image of Acropora gemmifera showing the large axial corallite and two sizes of radial corallites.

©Andy Lewis: Light brown colony of Acropora gemmifera from a reef crest at Lizard Island
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Cnidaria
Class Hexacorallia
Order Scleractinia
Family Acroporidae
Genus Acropora
Species Acropora gemmifera
Status least concern



Distinguishing features

This species is digitate, with compact tapering branches and a large axial polyp. Radial corallites are two sizes, large and small. The large radials increase in size down the branch. Colours include cream, pink, brownish-yellow, and blue-purple. Distinguish from A. humilis which has only one sized radial corallite, with little change in size down the branch.


  • Size data has not been obtained.


Similar taxa


©Atlas of Living Australia: Australian distribution

Distribution and habitat preferences

Upper reef slopes, reef crests and shallow reef flats.

Abundant in shallow habitats around Lizard Island.


Like most Acroporidae, this species is a hermaphrodite broadcast spawner, releasing gametes shortly after dark in the few days after the full moon in the warmer months between November and February.

A. gemmifera is a member of a digitate species complex which also includes A. humilis, A. monticulosa, A. samoensis, and A digitifera. However Wolstenholme (2004) also recognised another 7 intermediate morphs at Lizard Island which may well prove to be seperate species. Persons interested in the correct identification of digitate Acroporid corals should consult this reference, in particular Table 1 which lists the morphological characteristics of each taxon.

Web resources


  • Abrego, D., M.J.H. Van Oppen and B.L. Willis (2009). Onset of algal endosymbiont specificity varies among closely related species of Acropora corals during early ontogeny, Molecular Ecology, 18: 3532-3543.
  • Babcock, R.C., G.D. Bull, P.L. Harrison, A.J. Heyward, J.K. Oliver, C.C. Wallace and B.L. Willis (1986). Synchronous spawnings of 105 scleractinian coral species on the Great Barrier Reef, Marine Biology, 90: 379-394. LIRS catalog number 300.
  • Baird, A.H. (2001). The ecology of coral larvae: settlement patterns, habitat selection and the length of the larval phase, Ph.D. thesis, James Cook University. LIRS catalog number 716.
  • View all references