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Pillar Coral

Dendrogyra cylindrus


Commonly known as Pillar Coral, colonies of this species are found in flat, sheltered locations ranging from the southern tip of Florida down to the coast of Venezuela.

Pillar coral possesses one of the most distinct morphologies of any coral species, with colonies forming several large spires that may reach 2 metres in height. These colonies are typically grey or brown in colour and have a hairy appearance when polyps are extended. Despite being offered protection through a number of marine protected areas (MPAs) this species is threatened by global pressures such as climate change and ocean acidification.

  • Order: Scleractinia
  • Family: Meandrinidae
  • Population: Unknown
  • Trend: stable
  • Colony Size: <200mm
  • Depth Range (m): 1 - 25

EDGE Score

EDGE Score: 4.05 (?)
ED Score: 13.41 (?)
GE / IUCN Red List (?)
Not Evaluated Data Deficient Least Concern Near Threatened Vulnerable Endangered Critically Endangered Extinct in the Wild Extinct


This species occurs in the shallow, tropical waters of the Caribbean, southern Gulf of Mexico, Florida, and the Bahamas.

Habitat and Ecology

Colonies of this distinctive species are generally found on flat or gently sloping sheltered reef systems, most commonly between 5 – 15m deep, although they can survive in clear waters down to a depth of 25m.

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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 Disease 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. 

This Survival Blueprint is for the Action Programme for Venezuela

Vision (30-50 years)

90% of Dendrogyra cylindrus populations will be fully represented within marine protected areas, designed to ensure the species viability within its distribution range and with an adaptive management framework that eliminates local threats and reduce the effects of global threats to ensure the maintenance of coral reefs functions and the delivery of its ecosystem services.

Goal (5-10 years)

To have at least three ecologically functional populations in each of the nine species main habitat types in 70% of its regional and 100% of its national distribution range. Represent 100% of these ecologically functional populations within Marine Protected Areas Networks with management plans that complement common goals and addresses site-specific needs for the species viability and the persistence of its habitat. Increase habitat health status in at least 60% of the species national distribution range.


Scientific-based information about Dendrogyra cylindruspopulations and its threats status in a timely manner and communication to key stakeholders for decision-making process aimed to design and implement management strategies and policies that ensures the species conservation within the next three years is generated. Critical
For 2022, Develop and strengthen financial and human resources capacity for the conservation of D. cylindrus populations and its habitat within the proposed MPA Network Critical
For 2022, monitoring plans implementing methods that ensure the detection of changes in population trends and health status of D. cylindrus, habitat health condition and threats intensity in a timely fashion are included within management plans. Critical
For 2020, identify D. cylindrus conservation units and the degree of connectivity among them for prioritization purposes and MPA network design High
For 2022, adaptive management plans that include criteria for the conservation of D. cylindrus and its habitat according to the identified conservation units, threat distribution and intensity and socio-economic characteristics of local communities are drafted for the MPA network proposed. High
The species extinction risk in the IUCN Red List of threatened species as well as in the national red lists and other legislations within its distribution range have been re-assessed by 2021 Medium

This Survival Blueprint is for the Action Programme for The Bahamas

Vision (30-50 years)

To reverse the decline of of Dendrogyra cylindrus in The Bahamas and restoring the balance to a health and viable ecosystem.

Goal (5-10 years)

To monitor the status and trends of Bahamian Reef systems through the coral conservation citizen science project that will provide relevant information that can be used within the scope of a national plan to inform management and policy and identify new and or existing threats that can be mitigated through community action


Revising the Coral Conservation Team Monitoring Protocol so that data gathered can be compared to the AGRAA method High
Implement the Young Marine Explorers Conservation Program Curriculum High
Design database with user interface to collect and analyse information gathered by coral conservation teams Medium
Training and skills evaluation and refreshment for Coral Conservation Team Medium

Francoise Cabada

  • Project name: Population status and genetic connectivity of Dendrogyra cylindrus at Los Roques, Venezuela
  • Project site: Los Roques National Park
  • Active: 2014 - 2016
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Nikita Shiel-Rolle

  • Project name: Empowering youth through coral conservation
  • Project site: Bahamas
  • Active: 2012 - 2014
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