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Elephant Skin Coral

Pachyseris rugosa


Commonly named as the Elephant Skin Coral due to its wrinkly appearance, Pachyseris rugosa is a fairly common species on tropical reef systems within its range.

Either brown or grey, colonies develop as upright twisted plates with a deeply ingrained surface texture consisting of small ledges and channels.

Species of this genus are unusual in that they lack the ability to extend their polyps in order to catch food. Instead they have evolved a specific morphology that allows sediment to collect on the colony surface and be filtered from a close range.

This species it is particularly susceptible to coral bleaching due to increasing ocean temperatures and being harvested for the aquarium trade.


  • Order: Scleractinia
  • Family: Agariciidae
  • Trend: unknown
  • Depth Range (m): 5 - 20m

EDGE Score

EDGE Score: 3.95 (?)
ED Score: 12.02 (?)
GE / IUCN Red List (?)
Not Evaluated Data Deficient Least Concern Near Threatened Vulnerable Endangered Critically Endangered Extinct in the Wild Extinct


P.rugosa is a widely spread species which can be found throughout the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea, across to the Western Pacific, Australia, American Samoa and north to the South China Sea and southern Japan.

Habitat and Ecology

This species can from large mound-shaped colonies in shallow water reef systems, but is also known to form much smaller colonies on exposed sites subject to strong wave action. With the correct water conditions it can grow down to depths of 20m.

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This wordcloud illustrates the threats facing this species. The size of each word indicates the extent of a species range that is affected by that threat (larger size means a greater area is affected). The colour of the word indicates how much that threat impacts the species (darker shades of red mean the threat is more severe).

Urban development Industrial development Tourism Extreme temperatures Extreme weather Shipping Fishing Recreation Invasive species Native species Wastewater Industry Agriculture Air pollution

Threat wordcloud key:

Small area affected
Large area affected
Least severe
Most severe
Severity unknown
Source: The IUCN List of Threatened Species. Version 2017.1.
Available at:

Download the Survival Blueprint for this species below. Each survival blueprint is compiled by an EDGE Fellow working on the species with input from collaborators and stakeholders. The Survival Blueprint provides a status review (information on the distribution, protection status, habitat & ecology, threat and stakeholder analysis) and more information on the action programme listed here. 

Vision (30-50 years)

Elephantskin Coral Pachyseris rugosa is economically and ecologically valued and protected across the Maldives.

Goal (5-10 years)

Areas with significant population of Pachyseris rugosa are protected through well managed through well managed conservation measures.


Strengthen enforcement and legal framework relevant to environmental conservation Critical
Increase the capacity of stakeholders to monitor and manage coral reefs Critical
Increase awareness about coral reef science and conservation Critical
Improve and maintain access to coral reef science for policy development and decision making High

Ahmed Basheer

  • Project name: Spatial variation in abundance and distribution of two rare and vulnerable EDGE coral species under different management regimes
  • Project site: North Male and North Ari atolls, Maldives
  • Active: 2016 - 2018
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