information on the biology of species and the ecology of habitats found around the coasts and seas of the British Isles

Solitary ascidians, including Ascidia mentula and Ciona intestinalis, with Antedon spp. on wave-sheltered circalittoral rock



UK and Ireland classification

UK and Ireland classification


This variant occurs on circalittoral bedrock or boulder slopes in generally wave-sheltered conditions (often in sea lochs) with little tidal flow. It is frequently found on vertical or steeply-sloping rock. Apart from the large ascidians, Ascidia mentula and Ciona intestinalis, the rock surface usually has a rather sparse appearance. Scyphistomae larvae are often present on any vertical surfaces. Grazing by the sea urchin Echinus esculentus leaves only encrusting red algae (giving the bedrock/boulder substratum a pink appearance), cup corals Caryophyllia smithii and the keelworm Spirobranchus (formerly Pomatoceros) triqueter. There may be a few hydroid species present, such as Nemertesia spp. and Kirchenpaueria pinnata, occasional Alcyonium digitatum and occasional Metridium senile. Barnacles Balanus spp. and the colonial ascidian Clavelina lepadiformis also occasionally occur. At some sites, echinoderms such as the crinoid Antedon spp., the starfish Crossaster papposus and Asterias rubens and the brittlestar Ophiothrix fragilis (in low densities) may be found. The squat lobster Munida rugosa is likely to be found in crevices, under boulders, and the hermit crab Pagurus bernhardusmay be observed moving around the rock surface. The brachiopod Novocrania anomala is frequently observed (especially where this biotope occurs shallower than NovPro for example). The saddle oyster Pododesmus patelliformis may occasionally be seen attached to the rock/boulder face.

Depth range

5-10 m, 10-20 m, 20-30 m, 30-50 m

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Sensitivity reviewHow is sensitivity assessed?



Species indicative of sensitivity


Physical Pressures

No sensitivity data available

Chemical Pressures

No sensitivity data available

Biological Pressures

No sensitivity data available

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This review can be cited as:

Readman, J.A.J., 2016. Solitary ascidians, including [Ascidia mentula] and [Ciona intestinalis], with [Antedon] spp. on wave-sheltered circalittoral rock. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. (eds) Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 19-06-2018]. Available from:

Last Updated: 15/02/2016