BIOTIC Species Information for Pentapora fascialis
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Researched byAngus Jackson Data supplied byMarLIN
Refereed byDr Peter J. Hayward
Scientific namePentapora fascialis Common nameRoss coral
MCS CodeY418 Recent SynonymsPentapora foliacea, Lepralia foliacea

PhylumBryozoa Subphylum
Superclass ClassGymnolaemata
Subclass OrderCheilostomatida
Suborder FamilyBitectiporidae
GenusPentapora Speciesfascialis

Additional InformationSometimes misleadingly called "ross coral". The above taxonomy uses the most recent nomenclature according to Hayward & Ryland (1999). The Species Directory of the British Isles (Howson & Picton, 1997) placed Pentapora fascialis in the family Hippoporinidae under the species name Pentapora foliacea. Older classification schemes used the species Lepralia foliacea, e.g. the Plymouth Marine Fauna (Marine Biological Association 1957) and Bruce et al. (1963).
Taxonomy References Howson & Picton, 1997, Hayward et al., 1996, Hayward & Ryland, 1999, Bruce et al., 1963, MBA, 1957, Hayward & Ryland, 1979,
General Biology
Growth formFoliose
Feeding methodActive suspension feeder
Mobility/MovementPermanent attachment
Environmental positionEpibenthic
Typical food typesNo text entered HabitAttached
BioturbatorNot relevant FlexibilityNone (< 10 degrees)
FragilityFragile SizeMedium-large(21-50cm)
HeightUp to 10 cm Growth Rate2 cm/year
Adult dispersal potentialNone DependencyIndependent
General Biology Additional Information
  • Densities in the Bristol Channel have been recorded as up to one large colony per square metre. Populations in the Mediterranean have been recorded at densities of up to 7 colonies per square metre.
  • Pentapora fascialis grows initially as an encrusting sheet, which seems able to regenerate erect growths (P.J. Hayward pers. comm.).
  • Size ranges refer to colony diameter. Colony size is typically up to 20 cm in diameter and large specimens reach 40 cm across. The largest recorded specimen was from the Eddystone Light and had a circumference of over 2 metres and a depth of 30 cm (Hayward & Ryland, 1979). Specimens of Pentapora fascialis in the Mediterranean reach larger sizes (80cm diameter, 50 cm in height) in deeper waters (40-80 m).
  • Colony shape has been described as 'depressed globular' or 'dome-like' with an elliptical perimeter (Cocito et al., 1998(a)). Growth rates in the Bristol Channel have been estimated at around 2 cm (vertical height) per year through the use of stable oxygen isotope values (Patzold et al., 1987.). Another growth rate estimate (from the Mediterranean) indicates growth of over 200% colony surface area in 11 months (Cocito et al., 1998). Vertical growth has been recorded at up to 3.5 cm per year (Cocito & Ferdeghini, 1998 cited in Cocito et al., 1998).
  • The calcified laminae are rather brittle.
  • Pentapora fascialis characteristically supports several bryozoans including Amphiblestrum flemingii, Callopora dumerilii, Membranipora nitida & Smittoidea reticulata (Hayward& Ryland, 1979). Large colonies may shelter 1000's of other animals (Hayward & Ryland, 1979).
Biology References Hayward et al., 1996, Patzold et al., 1987, Cocito et al., 1998(a), Sala et al., 1996, Hayward & Ryland, 1979, Cocito et al., 1998(b),
Distribution and Habitat
Distribution in Britain & IrelandCommon along the South coast of England as far east as Beachy Head. Also the south west, the western extremities of Wales and the Isle of Man. In Ireland present along the south west and north coasts. Scarce records from the Hebrides and St Kilda.
Global distributionPentapora fascialis is also found in the western Mediterranean and Adriatic.
Biogeographic rangeNot researched Depth range11 - 80m
MigratoryNon-migratory / Resident   
Distribution Additional InformationOff Lundy in the Bristol Channel, most common below 18 m and abundant between 25 -34 m (Hayward & Ryland, 1979). Pentapora fascialis is recorded as settling on artificial substrata in the Ligurian sea (Geraci, 1974 cited in Cocito et al., 1998(b) Pentapora fascialis is recorded as being present (off the British Isles) in temperatures between 8 & 14 °C and salinity of 34.5 psu (Patzold et al., 1987).

Substratum preferencesBedrock
Artificial (e.g. metal/wood/concrete)
Large to very large boulders
Physiographic preferencesOpen coast
Offshore seabed
Biological zoneLower Infralittoral
Upper Circalittoral
Lower Circalittoral
Wave exposureVery Exposed
Moderately Exposed
Tidal stream strength/Water flowStrong (3-6 kn)
Moderately Strong (1-3 kn)
SalinityFull (30-40 psu)
Habitat Preferences Additional Information
Distribution References Hayward et al., 1996, Patzold et al., 1987, Cocito et al., 1998(a), Sala et al., 1996, Bruce et al., 1963, MBA, 1957, JNCC, 1999, Picton & Costello, 1998, Hayward & Ryland, 1979, Cocito et al., 1998(b),
Reproduction/Life History
Reproductive typeInsufficient information
Developmental mechanismLecithotrophic
Reproductive SeasonFebruary to October Reproductive LocationInsufficient information
Reproductive frequencyAnnual protracted Regeneration potential No
Life span6-10 years Age at reproductive maturitySee additional information
Generation timeInsufficient information FecundityInsufficient information
Egg/propagule sizeInsufficient information Fertilization typeInsufficient information
Larval/Juvenile dispersal potentialInsufficient information Larval settlement periodInsufficient information
Duration of larval stage<1 day   
Reproduction Preferences Additional Information
  • Pentapora fascialis is perennial, (Eggleston, 1972a) and probably lives for several years. Stable oxygen isotope values have shown colonies to be at least 3 years old (Patzold et al., 1987) and other estimates of growth rate suggest that Pentapora fascialis colonies in the Mediterranean are 10 years old or more (Cocito et al., 1998(a)).
  • In Pentapora fascialis, the presence/absence of ovicells is taken to be a reliable indicator of reproductive status and as such is a feature of sexual maturity (Cocito et al., 1998(b)). In the Skomer Marine Nature Reserve, colonies were reported to have ovicells present in September, indicating a reproduction event in September or late August (Lock et al., 2006). Colonies of Pentapora fascialis as small as 2.8 cm have been recorded as having ovicells. Reproductive ability is gained at an early stage of colony development (Cocito et al., 1998(b)). Larval settling time is inferred from another Cheilostomata bryozoan species, Bugula neritina (Keough & Chernoff, 1987). Gautier (1962) records ovicells being present all year round. Cocito et al., (1998(b)) note the presence of ovicells in Pentapora fascialis in the northwestern Mediterranean from February to October.
  • Patzold et al. (1987) record the formation of a growth band in Pentapora fascialis during times of reduced reproductivity. This growth check line appears during periods of colder water temperatures.
Reproduction References Patzold et al., 1987, Cocito et al., 1998(a), Cocito et al., 1998(b), Eggleston, 1972, Keough & Chernoff, 1987, Gautier, 1962, Lock et al., 2006,
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