Select the search type
  • Site
  • Web
You are here:   OldClasses > 2012 > Fungia fungites | Ben Murphy




Fungia fungites (Linnaeus, 1758)                                                

Common Mushroom Coral

Ben Murphy (2012)




Fact Sheet



Physical Description


Life History & Behaviour

Anatomy & Physiology

Evolution & Systematics

Biogeographic Distribution

Conservation & Threats

References & Links


This section details the broad ecology of F.fungites. Detailing its microhabitat, associations with other species and a guide to aid in finding this species on Heron Island.   


F.fungites are typically found in shallow reef areas of the Indo-Pacific (Hoeksema & Yeemin, 2011). On Heron Island of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) they occur on both the reef crest and reef flat. They are predominantly found within cavities on the reef flat (Chadwick-Furman & Loya, 1992). Although individuals can also be found on sandy areas within the reef flat and in small shallow lagoonal areas just inshore of the reef crest. F.fungites may also be found on the reef slope, but this area could not be explored during field work due to dangerous tidal conditions and hence its distribution onto the reef slope could not be documented.


& Parasites

In accordance to the majority of scleractinian corals, F.fungites is host to symbiotic dinoflagellates commonly known as zooxanthellae (Ruppert et al, 2004). These dinoflagelaates belong to the Symbiodinium genus with Symbiodinium type C recorded in F.fungites from the GBR (LaJeunesse et al, 2004). These symbiotic dinoflagellates photosynthesise within the coral, providing energy to the coral.

Recently, work has begun identifying acoel flatworms (Convolutidae) and copepods (Anchimolgidae) which are associated with Fungiid corals. Twenty-six fungiid-associated copepod species have been recorded to date (Hoeksema et al, 2012). Although no associated species have been found within F.fungites yet,the probability is high that there will be associated copepods. I predict that with future work, associated flatworms and copepods will be found within F.fungites.

Six species of barnacle have been recorded to be using F.fungites as a host, they include: Anchimolgus hastatus, Anchimolgus orectus, Asteropontius fungicola, Odontomolgus flammeus and Zazaranus fungicolus (Hoeksema et al, 2012). The effect of the boring action of barnacles into Fungid corals are thought to be minor (Glynn, 1997).


The crown of thorns starfish (Acanathaster planci), has been documented to readily predate on F.fungites, but this is only after more preferred coral species are not present (Pratchett, 2007). Because the more preferred species are abundant corals such as Acropora and Montipora species, I predict that A.planci has little effect on populations of F.fungites.


Chadwick-Furman & Loya (1992) revealed that Fungiids are competitively dominant over non-Fungiid scleractinian corals. The Fungiids, including F.fungites actively damage other corals when they come into contact, while they do not damage each other. This defence mechanism actively prevents the fungids corals from being overgrown by more massive colonial coral species. There were no observed aggressive interactions between fungids and soft octocorals.

Experimentation with extracts from F.fungites by Fearon & Cameron (1997) demonstrated the presence of toxins which are capable of killing pre- and post-settlement Scleractinian corals. Therefore F.fungites are able to chemically defend their position on the reef by larval and settled corals.This toxicity also prevent other corals from settling directly onto the F.fungites. 

These two defensive mechanisms are likely the means for the formation of the cavities that F.fungites inhabit. I propose that the active inhibition of  growth of corals in the close vicinity to a F.fungites coral created the cavity that the polyps inhabit. This is a result of the polyps protecting themselves from being covered by new coral growth and instead the surrounding corals grow up andaround them, creating cavities. 

Therefore F.fungites act to reduce the growth of the reef on very small local scales. It would be interesting to undertake further study to determine how these cavities are used after the coral inhabiting it dies. These uninhabited areas may be important in allowing new colonizers into reefs.


The most reliable method to find F.fungites on the reef is to walk the reef flat on low tide. By walking on top of the reef flat you can easily find F.fungites located in cavities. This is done by looking for their distinctive brown coloration, as it is markedly different form the other reef flat inhabitants. Care should be taken while walking on the reef flat as it is easy to damage coral and other reef species.



(2 objects, created 5/6/2011)

Album: This is a private album that is not visible to anonymous users Great Barrier Reef Invertebrates



Album: 2012

Album: 2011