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

Sponges, bryozoans and ascidians on deeply overhanging lower shore bedrock or caves



UK and Ireland classification

UK and Ireland classification


Overhanging, and shaded vertical, bedrock on the lower shore and in lower shore caves, not subject to appreciable wave-surge, and characterized by crusts of bryozoans including Umbonula littoralis, sponges such as Grantia compressa, Halichondria panicea, Scypha ciliata and Hymeniacidon perleve and the ascidian Botryllus schlosseri. On overhangs, the hydroid Dynamena pumila hangs in distinct form from overhanging rock. The barnacles Balanus crenatus, Perforatus perforatus (sometimes at high densities) and Semibalanus balanoides, and the calcareous tube-forming polychaetes Spirorbis spp. and Spirobranchus triqueter can be present as well. Certain species which are generally confined to the sublittoral, including the anemones Metridium senile and Corynactis viridis, may be found in the lower shore caves and overhangs. Littoral species such as Actinia equina are also present. The only algae present are coralline crusts. The list of characterising species partly reflects the variation in the species composition between individual overhangs and caves although this biotope can have a high species richness. (Information from Connor et al., 2004).

Depth range

Mid shore, Lower shore

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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

Additional information



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This review can be cited as:

Readman, J.A.J., 2016. Sponges, bryozoans and ascidians on deeply overhanging lower shore bedrock or caves. 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: 07/07/2016