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Favites Monticularis is a New Species of Stony Coral

Favites monticularis is a marine species and Genus Favites, the Family Merulinidae. It can be further characterized as in the Order Scleractinia in the Subclass Hexacorallia. It forms part of the Anthozoa Class, which is part of the Phylum Cnidaria that is in the Kingdom Animalia. The coral specimen was sampled from off Shibpur, Diglipur, North Andaman by SCUBA diving.

Scleractinian corals are described under 18 families. Among these, Faviidae is denoted as the second largest family having 126 species of corals belonging to 24 genera (Veron). Veron described the characteristics as well as differentiation among the genera such as Favia, Barabattoia, Favites, and Montastrea. Veron summarized a total of 14 species of corals under the genus Favites among 16 extant species. The described species under the genus Favites are flat, rounded, massive, encrusting with irregular compact organization. Corallites are monocentric and cerioid with fused structural form with the presence of common wall which is acute. Leafy walls are composed of 6–8 mm deep fossa. Calices are variable in structure such as oval, polygonal and angular with a series. Several marginally spiny septa are developed from the fossa with prominent dentations.

Colonies are usually brown to green but the peristome region can be seen with contrasting color. The Andaman & Nicobar Islands represent diverse scleractinian corals of the genus Favites with new records of spinosa, paraflexuosa and micropentagona. These islands also represent a high diversity of scleractinian corals at North and Middle Andaman & Ritchie’s Archipelago.

The colonies of Favites monticolaris are encrusting and massive. Corallites are cerioid. The diameter of the corallites is 6–10 mm. Two septal cycles were distinguished. Lengths of the septa are variable. The first order septa reach the columella while the second order may or may not. Paliform lobes are well developed, echinose in structure. Septal dentition is also well formed in echinose pattern. Columella is poorly developed and loose. Septa are variable and exert over the theca forming conical-shaped monticule structures. These are regular and variable in length of 2–3 mm according to corallites structure. Due to the presence of monticules, the colonies appear as serially arranged upwards and downwards structures.

Favites pentagona is a very closely related species. This species does not have a monticule like structure. Favites monticolaris is also closely related to Hydnophora microconos in lateral view. Colonies are green to brown in color. Centre of the corallites or columella is pale and the monticules are whitish in color.

Monticularis is based on the word monticule which means small hill or mound, as the species bears small hill (monticule) shaped structure on the septal wall, which distinguishes this species from other species of the genus Favites. The presently described species has been compared with other 14 species of Favites reported from worldwide with their key taxonomical features.

The Andaman and Nicobar Islands harbor a great deal of scleractinian corals which makes this area one of the highly diversified reef areas in the Indo-Pacific region. Favites monticularis is described as a new scleractinian coral species from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Although this species shows a close resemblance to Favites pentagona, in morphological characters – it also shows a distinct difference with the presence of monticule. This character makes this species unique. Apart from the described holotype of Favites monticularis reported from off Shibpur, five more colonies of the presently described species were observed from the same study area and subsequently three

colonies at Neil Island and two colonies at Havelock Island during underwater status survey of scleractinian corals. This new species under the genus Favites is not only an addition to scleractinianorder but also new to science.