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

Eunicella verrucosa and Pentapora foliacea on wave-exposed circalittoral rock

01-09-2000
Researched byJohn Readman, Angus Jackson & Dr. Keith Hiscock Refereed byThis information is not refereed.
EUNIS CodeA4.1311 EUNIS NameEunicella verrucosa and Pentapora foliacea on wave-exposed circalittoral rock

Summary

UK and Ireland classification

EUNIS 2008A4.1311Eunicella verrucosa and Pentapora foliacea on wave-exposed circalittoral rock
EUNIS 2006A4.1311Eunicella verrucosa and Pentapora foliacea on wave-exposed circalittoral rock
JNCC 2004CR.HCR.XFa.ByErSp.EunEunicella verrucosa and Pentapora foliacea on wave-exposed circalittoral rock
1997 BiotopeCR.MCR.XFa.ErSEunErect sponges, Eunicella verrucosa and Pentapora foliacea on slightly tide-swept moderately exposed circalittoral rock

Description

This variant typically occurs on wave-exposed, steep, circalittoral bedrock, boulder slopes and outcrops, subject to varying tidal streams. This silty variant contains a diverse faunal community, dominated by the seafan Eunicella verrucosa, the bryozoan Pentapora foliacea and the cup coral Caryophyllia smithii. There are frequently numerous Alcyonium digitatum, and these may become locally abundant under more tide-swept conditions. Alcyonium glomeratum may also be present. A diverse sponge community is usually present, including numerous erect sponges; species present include Cliona celata, Raspailia ramosa, Raspailia hispida, Axinella dissimilis, Stelligera stuposa, Dysidea fragilis and Polymastia boletiformisHomaxinella subdola may be present in the south west. A hydroid/bryozoan turf may develop in the understorey of this rich sponge assemblage, with species such as Nemertesia antennina, Nemertesia ramosa, crisiids, Alcyonidium diaphanum and Bugula plumosa. The sea cucumber Holothuria forskali may be locally abundant, feeding on the silty deposits on the rock surface. Other echinoderms encountered include the starfish Marthasterias glacialis and the urchin Echinus esculentus. Other fauna includes aggregations of colonial ascidians Clavelina lepadiformis and Stolonica socialis. Anemones such as Actinothoe sphyrodeta and Parazoanthus axinellae may be seen dotted across the rock surface. This biotope is present in south west England and Wales. (Information from Connor et al., 2004).

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Recorded in southern England from Dorset westwards, in the Isles of Scilly and on the north coasts of Devon and Cornwall, Lundy and Skomer. One record from Bardsey Island in north Wales (without Eunicella verrucosa) and also from several locations on the west coast of Ireland including Donegal and Bantry Bays.

Depth range

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Additional information

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Listed By

Further information sources

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JNCC

Habitat review

Ecology

Ecological and functional relationships

  • The biotopes represented by MCR.ErSEun are sponge and soft coral dominated. Sponges are noted as being inhabited by a wide diversity of invertebrates. Sponges can provide hard substrata for attachment, refugia and shelter, an enhanced food supply in feeding currents and a potential food source themselves (Klitgaard, 1995; Koukouras et al., 1996.)
  • The fauna associated with sponges in temperate to cold waters is considered to be facultative rather than obligate and reflects the fauna of the local geographic area (Klitgaard, 1995)
  • Predation levels of the characterizing species in the biotope are poorly understood. Eunicella verrucosa is preyed upon by the sea slug Tritonia nilsodhneri and Alcyonium digitatum by Tritonia plebeia. Alcyonium digitatum and Alcyonium glomeratum are preyed upon by the prosobranch Simnia patula Grazing by the sea urchin Echinus esculentus may modify faunal abundance and distribution. Some species of temperate sponge contain chemicals that can inhibit sea urchin feeding (Wright et al., 1997)
  • Large colonies of Pentapora foliacea with their complex laminar structure are noted as potentially sheltering thousands of other animals. Pentapora fascialis in the Mediterranean supports various epibiotic species, some of which may cause partial mortality of colonies (Cocito et al., 1998(a)).
  • The various mobile echinoderms characteristic of the biotope (e.g. Luidia ciliaris, Henricia oculata, Asterias rubens) may have a role in modifying other benthic populations through predation.
  • Eunicella verrucosa provides a habitat for the nationally rare sea anemone Amphianthus dohrnii.
  • Where the deposit feeding sea cucumber, the cotton spinner Holothuria forskali occurs, it may be important in removing silt and enabling settlement of other benthic species.

Seasonal and longer term change

Annual species in the biotope such as Nemertesia ramosa will increase and decrease through the seasons. Other species such as Alcyonium digitatum have seasonal stages, retracting their polyps and not feeding from about July to November, during which time the surface of the colony becomes covered with encrusting algae and hydroids (Fish & Fish, 1996). When the colony recommences feeding in December the surface film, together with the surface epithelium, is shed. The main species used to represent the biotope, Eunicella verrucosa, Axinella dissimilis, & Pentapora foliacea are typically long-lived perennials. Where the biotope occurs in the lower infralittoral or upper circalittoral, extensive growth of annual algae may occur, especially in years when the water is clear.

Habitat structure and complexity

Many of the species characteristic of this community add considerable physical complexity to the biotope. There are upright branching and cup sponges, sea fans, colonies of dead mans fingers and erect bryozoans. All of these species add depth and a three dimensional structure to the substratum. The biotope occurs on bedrock and boulders which may provide overhangs, crevices and shelter where crevice dwelling species such as sea cucumbers (Aslia lefevrei), squat lobsters and wrasse (mainly Centrolabrus exoletus) may live. Complex upright bryozoans as well as many sponges are recorded as providing substratum and shelter for other species . Sponge morphology is important in determining the number and abundance of inhabitant species. Sponges with a spicule 'fur' have more associated taxa than sponges without (Klitgaard, 1995). For example, Axinella species have a spicule 'fur' (Moss & Ackers, 1982). Hayward & Ryland, (1979) record large colonies of Pentapora foliacea as potentially sheltering thousands of other animals.
  • The biotope MCR.PhaAxi has a similar sponge component to MCR.ErSEun but has different associated fauna and occurs in deeper water with greater wave exposure.
  • MCR.ErSPbolSH is again a sponge dominated biotope with an understorey of hydroids and bryozoans. Although still on fairly stable substrata some of the species present are associated with more ephemeral or disturbed biotopes.

Productivity

No photosynthetic species are listed as characterizing species in MCR.ErSEun, a circalittoral biotope. Consequently, primary production is not regarded as a major component of productivity. Nevertheless, some characteristically deep water species of algae are often present and near to the infralittoral algae may sometimes be abundant. The biotopes MCR.ErSPbolSH and MCR.ErSSwi may have a small algal component. The biotopes are often species rich and may contain quite high animal densities and biomass. Specific information about the productivity of characterizing species or about the biotopes in general are not available.

Recruitment processes

Most of the characterizing species in the biotope are sessile suspension feeders. Recruitment of adults of these species to the biotope by immigration is unlikely. Consequently, recruitment must occur primarily through dispersive larval stages. Some species have larvae that can disperse widely and these may arrive from distant locations. Other species such as Pentapora foliacea have larvae that typically exist for only a short time and will settle in the proximity of the parent (Cocito et al., 1998b). Recruitment of the mobile predators and grazers may be through immigration of adults or via a larval dispersal phase.

Time for community to reach maturity

Some species within the biotope community are annuals and recruit each year (e.g. Nemertesia ramosa). Other species are potentially very slow growing and long lived such as Eunicella verrucosa which may live as long as 50 years (K. Hiscock pers. comm.).

Additional information

The main trophic group in the biotope is suspension feeders although there may be several species of fish and echinoderm predators or grazers present.

Preferences & Distribution

Recorded distribution in Britain and IrelandRecorded in southern England from Dorset westwards, in the Isles of Scilly and on the north coasts of Devon and Cornwall, Lundy and Skomer. One record from Bardsey Island in north Wales (without Eunicella verrucosa) and also from several locations on the west coast of Ireland including Donegal and Bantry Bays.

Habitat preferences

Depth Range
Water clarity preferences
Limiting Nutrients Data deficient
Salinity Full (30-40 psu)
Physiographic Open coast
Biological Zone Circalittoral
Substratum Bedrock, Large to very large boulders
Tidal Moderately Strong 1 to 3 knots (0.5-1.5 m/sec.), Weak < 1 knot (<0.5 m/sec.)
Wave Exposed, Moderately exposed, Very exposed
Other preferences

Additional Information

Recorded distribution is only for the representative biotope MCR.ErSEun. For recorded distributions of the other biotopes represented by this review see MERMAID. Apart from perhaps MCR.ErSSwi, the biotopes represented by this review have a silt component suggesting that localized shelter may be important in encouraging their development.

Species composition

Species found especially in this biotope

    Rare or scarce species associated with this biotope

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    Additional information

    Sensitivity reviewHow is sensitivity assessed?

    Explanation

    Eunicella verrucosa, the pink sea fan, is found with high frequency in the biotope and provides a key structural component. Eunicella verrucosa also acts as a functionally similar representative for other species, such as Swiftia pallida, found in other biotopes represented by this review. Pentapora foliacea also has a structural role and is characteristic of the biotope although may not always be present. Axinella dissimilis is characteristic of the biotope and represents other species of moderately large, upright, branching sponges. All these three species contribute significantly to the physical structure and complexity of the biotope. Where information on other species is known, it is taken into account in the sensitivity assessments.

    Species indicative of sensitivity

    Community ImportanceSpecies nameCommon Name
    Important characterizingAxinella dissimilisA branching sponge
    Key structuralEunicella verrucosaPink sea fan
    Important characterizingPentapora fascialisRoss

    Physical Pressures

     IntoleranceRecoverabilitySensitivitySpecies RichnessEvidence/Confidence
    High Very low / none Very High Major decline High
    Most of the characteristic species in the biotope are permanently attached to the substratum (e.g. the sponges, sea fans and bryozoans) and will not re-attach once displaced. Substratum loss will result in loss of these species and so intolerance of the biotope is high. Pentapora foliacea has good reproductive and recolonizing abilities. It has been recorded as recovering in 3.5 years after almost total loss of a local population (Cocito et al., 1998b). Eunicella verrucosa is long lived, slow growing, and little is known of its reproduction. It is known to colonize wrecks at least several hundred metres from other hard substrata with sea fans, but is thought to have larvae which generally settle near the parent. Little is known of the reproduction and recruitment mechanisms in Axinella dissimilis or other sponges but branching sponges have not been observed to colonize wrecks and growth rate of Axinella dissimilis at Lundy is extremely slow (less than 1mm a year) (K. Hiscock, pers. comm.). In monitoring studies at Lundy, branching sponges showed no recruitment, only losses over a 13 year period (K. Hiscock pers. comm.). Recovery of some parts of this community may therefore take a long time or not occur. Other species in the biotope may have long-lived widely dispersing larvae. Mobile species such as the echinoderms and fish should be able to return rapidly.
    Intermediate Moderate Moderate Decline Moderate
    Some of the species in the biotope are upright and branching (e.g. Axinella dissimilis and Eunicella verrucosa). These species project above the substratum to sufficient height not to be covered completely by 5 cm of sediment and consequently may not be killed by smothering. Other more low lying or encrusting species (encrusting sponges, hydroids, bryozoans etc.) are more likely to be completely covered and will probably die. Many of the species are sessile and attached to the substratum so recovery of the population through immigration of adults is not possible. Mobile species such as the echinoderms and fish may be able to return more rapidly. Pentapora foliacea has some regenerative ability as well as good reproductive and recolonizing abilities. It has been recorded as recovering in 3.5 years after almost total loss of a local population (Cocito et al., 1998b). Some species such as Nemertesia ramosa are annuals and recruit readily over short distances. The long-lived slow growing and infrequently recruiting species are likely to survive smothering and the ones that are likely to be lost are also likely to recolonize within a few years. Recovery of the biotope as a whole is, however, likely to take more than five years. Therefore, a recovery rank of moderate is suggested.
    Low Very high Very Low No change Moderate
    Many of the species are suspension feeders and increase in suspended sediment may cause interference and blockages, for example in sponge canals and pores. However, the anthozoans and sponges produce mucus which is shed with attached silt to clean the external surface. Mortality is not therefore expected with increased suspended sediment levels but some reduction in fitness may occur as a result of energy being expended in cleaning.
    Tolerant Not sensitive*
    Many of the species are suspension feeders and decrease in suspended sediment may reduce interference and blockages, for example of sponge canals and pores. However, the species in the biotope may rely of suspended organic material that is a part of the suspended material for feeding. Overall, there are both likely favourable and unfavourable effects of decrease in suspended sediment so that not sensitive is indicated.
    Not relevant Not relevant Not relevant Not relevant Not relevant
    The biotope is entirely subtidal and will not be subject to desiccation.
    Not relevant Not relevant Not relevant Not relevant Not relevant
    The biotope is entirely subtidal and will not be subject to emergence.
    Not sensitive* Not relevant
    The biotope is entirely subtidal and is not subject to emergence.
    Low High Low Minor decline Moderate
    The biotope consists mainly of species firmly attached to the substratum and which would be unlikely to be displaced by an increase in the strength of tidal streams. Many of the species in this biotope are suspension feeders and rely to some extent on water flow to ensure their food supply. However, an increase in tidal flow rate to strong or greater (i.e. above 3 knots) may cause loss of posture and interfere with feeding mechanisms, particularly in the more delicate species like hydroids. Mobile species may be displaced or washed away but species such as the echinoderms and fish may be able to return rapidly after flow rates return to normal. There would be loss of feeding and a decline in species richness as mobile species might be swept away.
    Low Very high Moderate Minor decline Moderate
    Many of the species in this biotope are suspension feeders and rely to some extent on water flow to ensure their food supply. Also, reduced water flow is likely to lead to siltation and therefore effects similar to those described in 'smothering'. Overall, the long-lived, slow growing and poor recruitment species are likely to survive albeit with reduced food supply and a small number of other species may succumb to smothering.
    Tolerant* Not relevant Not sensitive* Rise High
    The biotope is found mainly in the south west of England and the west coast of Ireland. Long term increases in temperature may cause an increase in the abundance of the southern species that characterize it and more southern species may colonize the biotope. Expansion of the geographic range of the characterizing species may also expand the geographical range of the biotope northwards. In the case off an acute rise in temperature at the warmest time of year, it is not expected that temperature will be harmful as the characterizing species generally occur much further south than the British Isles. Overall, an increase in temperature is likely to be favourable to the presence of this biotope.
    Intermediate High Low Minor decline Very low
    The distribution of the sponge Axinella dissimilis and the soft coral Alcyonium digitatum extend to Iceland so these species may be tolerant of long-term decreases in temperature. Long-term decrease in temperature is likely to lead to a poor year for recruitment of Eunicella verrucosa but is unlikely to lead to mortality. A live specimen collected from shallow depths off North Devon in 1973 exhibited growth rings that demonstrated that the colony had survived the 1962/63 cold winter. Also, large colonies were being collected from Lundy in the late 1960's suggesting no significant loss in 1962/63 (Keith Hiscock, own observations.). Assuming that temperature decrease reduces recruitment, the population size might decline for a year but recovery will occur following a successful recruitment. Therefore, it appears that the biotope may be able to tolerate a long term decrease in temperature. However, the response of these species to larger short term acute decrease are not known and may lead to a reduction in species diversity. Any losses are likely to be amongst species that recolonize rapidly. A rank of intermediate, but with very low confidence is reported.
    Low Very high Very Low No change Moderate
    The biotope occurs in the circalittoral and none of the characterizing species are algae likely to be adversely affected by decreased light levels. However, increased turbidity is usually caused by increased silt levels in the water so that the intolerance and recoverability characteristics are likely to be similar.
    Low Immediate Not relevant No change Moderate
    Decreased turbidity is likely to lead to increased algal growth with the potential to smother some of the species especially where they live close to the seabed. Also, drift from ephemeral algae growing as a result of increased water clarity may clog branches of sea fans and branching sponges reducing feeding ability. Effects of increased algal growth on this biotope have been observed at Lundy (Keith Hiscock, own observations) where the biotope and its component long lived, slow-growing and poorly recruiting components persisted. There effects are likely to be short-term and result in reduced feeding ability.
    Intermediate Low High Decline Moderate
    The biotope exists in moderately exposed areas (Connor et al., 1997(a)). Increases in wave exposure may interfere with the posture of upright species in the biotope. Sea fans will be detached from the substratum by storms. For example, detached colonies are frequently seen on the seabed and after severe storms may be washed-up on the strandline. The surface of Axinella dissimilis cracks if bent more than 90 ° (Moss & Ackers, 1982). After prolonged easterly gales in the winter of 1987 at Lundy, branching sponges were damaged and some lost from monitoring sites (K. Hiscock pers. comm.). The erect bryozoan Pentapora foliacea has brittle lamellae and is known to be severely damaged by extreme wave action (Cocito et al., 1998(a)). The biotope MCR.PhaAxi occurs in more wave exposed areas although the effects of wave action would be reduced in the deeper waters in which the biotope occurs. Many of the species are sessile and attached to the substratum so supplementation of the population through immigration of adults is not possible. Mobile species such as the echinoderms and fish may be able to return more rapidly. Pentapora foliacea has some regenerative ability as well as good reproductive and recolonizing abilities. It has been recorded as recovering in 3.5 years after almost total loss of a local population (Cocito et al., 1998(b)). Eunicella verrucosa is long lived, slow growing, and little is known of its dispersal and reproduction. Little is known of the reproduction and recruitment mechanisms in Axinella dissimilis or other sponges. Some annual species such as Nemertesia ramosa are annuals and recruit readily over short distances. Providing that not all individuals of the characterizing species are lost during a storm, the biotope will remain but recovery to previous abundances in likely to take a long time so recovery is rated low.
    Low Very high Moderate Minor decline Moderate
    Whilst water movement is required to bring food to suspension feeding species in the biotope, tidal streams are generally more important than wave oscillation in doing so. However, decreased wave exposure may lead to increased siltation and smothering effects. Therefore, some loss of species living close to the substratum might occur. Those species are generally fast to settle and grow.
    Tolerant Not relevant Not relevant No change Low
    It is unlikely that any of the benthic key or important characterizing species are sensitive to noise disturbance. Some of the biotopes characterizing species, namely the wrasse (Labrus bergylta, Labrus mixtus), may have low intolerance to noise but this will not have a major impact on the biotope as a whole.
    Tolerant Not relevant Not relevant No change High
    It is unlikely that any of the benthic key or important characterizing species are sensitive to visual presence. Some of the characterizing species in the biotope, namely the wrasse (Labrus bergylta, Labrus mixtus), may have low intolerance to visual disturbance but this will not have a major impact on the biotope as a whole.
    High Very low / none Very High Major decline Moderate
    The three selected key or important characterizing species in this biotope are highly or intermediately intolerant of abrasion. Other species in the biotope that are upright and protrude above the substratum will also be damaged or killed by abrasion (e.g. hydroids, branching and cup sponges etc). Also, mobile surface species that are not fast movers, for example Echinus esculentus. Pentapora foliacea has good reproductive and recolonizing abilities. It has been recorded as recovering in 3.5 years after almost total loss of a local population (Cocito et al., 1998b). Eunicella verrucosa is long lived, slow growing, and little is known of its reproduction. Nevertheless, Eunicella verrucosa does appear to recruit well providing there are extant populations nearby. On the other hand, Axinella polypoides (one of the species often present in the biotope) is unlikely to recover if lost (Keith Hiscock, pers comm.). Sponges are often slow growing and long lived. Little is known of the reproduction and recruitment mechanisms in Axinella dissimilis or other sponges. Recovery of some parts of this community and biotope may take a long time. Other species are annuals and may have long-lived widely dispersing larvae. Many of the species in the biotope (including the 3 selected characterizing species) have permanent attachments to the substratum so immigration of adults into the biotope is not possible. Mobile species such as the echinoderms and fish will be able to return more rapidly.
    High Very low / none Very High Major decline High
    Many of the species in the biotope, including the three that have been selected to represent the intolerance of the biotope, are permanently attached to the substratum and will die if displaced from their attachment. Pentapora foliacea has good reproductive and recolonizing abilities. It has been recorded as recovering in 3.5 years after almost total loss of a local population (Cocito et al., 1998b). Eunicella verrucosa is long lived, slow growing, and little is known of its reproduction. Sponges are often slow growing and long lived. Little is known of the reproduction and recruitment mechanisms in Axinella dissimilis or other sponges. Recovery of some parts of this community and biotope may take a long time. Other species are annuals and may have long-lived widely dispersing larvae. Many of the species in the biotope (including the 3 selected characterizing species) have permanent attachments to the substratum so immigration of adults into the biotope is not possible. Mobile species such as the echinoderms and fish may be able to return more rapidly.

    Chemical Pressures

     IntoleranceRecoverabilitySensitivityRichnessEvidence/Confidence
    No information No information No information Insufficient
    information
    Not relevant
    Insufficient
    information
    Heavy metal contamination
    No information No information No information Insufficient
    information
    Not relevant
    Insufficient
    information
    Hydrocarbon contamination
    No information No information No information Insufficient
    information
    Not relevant
    Insufficient
    information
    Radionuclide contamination
    No information No information No information Insufficient
    information
    Not relevant
    Insufficient
    information
    Changes in nutrient levels
    No information No information No information Insufficient
    information
    Not relevant
    Insufficient
    information
    High Very low / none Very High Major decline Moderate
    The biotope occurs only in fully saline waters (Connor et al., 1997a) . The three selected key or important characterizing species are highly intolerant of decreases in salinity. Other characterizing species may also be highly intolerant of decreases in salinity. Pentapora foliacea has good reproductive and recolonizing abilities. It has been recorded as recovering in 3.5 years after almost total loss of a local population (Cocito et al., 1998(b)). Eunicella verrucosa is long lived, slow growing, and little is known of its reproduction. Sponges are often slow growing and long lived. Little is known of the reproduction and recruitment mechanisms in Axinella dissimilis or other sponges. Recovery of some parts of this community and biotope may take a long time. Other species are annuals and may have long-lived widely dispersing larvae. Many of the species in the biotope (including the 3 selected characterizing species) have permanent attachments to the substratum so immigration of adults into the biotope is not possible. Mobile species such as the echinoderms and fish may be able to return more rapidly.
    Intermediate Low High Major decline Moderate
    No information is directly available regarding the biotopes or the selected characterizing species tolerance to decreases in oxygenation. Pentapora foliacea and Axinella dissimilis have been assessed as of intermediate intolerance. Many of the species are sessile and attached to the substratum so supplementation of the population through immigration of adults is not possible. Mobile species such as the echinoderms and fish may be able to return more rapidly. Pentapora foliacea has some regenerative ability as well as good reproductive and recolonizing abilities. It has been recorded as recovering in 3.5 years after almost total loss of a local population (Cocito et al., 1998b). Eunicella verrucosa is long lived, slow growing, and little is known of its dispersal and reproduction. Little is known of the reproduction and recruitment mechanisms in Axinella dissimilis or other sponges. Some annual species such as Nemertesia ramosa are annuals and recruit readily over short distances. Recovery of the biotope as a whole is likely to take a long time.

    Biological Pressures

     IntoleranceRecoverabilitySensitivityRichnessEvidence/Confidence
    No information No information No information Insufficient
    information
    Not relevant
    Insufficient
    information
    No information No information No information Insufficient
    information
    Not relevant
    Insufficient
    information
    Intermediate Low High No change Low
    It is extremely unlikely that Pentapora fascialis would be targeted for extraction. However, Eunicella verrucosa is sometimes taken illegally (it is protected under schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 against killing, injuring, taking possession and sale and is the subject of a UK Biodiversity Action Plan). Echinus esculentus, a characterizing species in the biotope, is also collected and an intolerance of intermediate has been suggested with a low recovery.

    If, however, the biotope was targeted indirectly for other species, the damage resulting from bottom fishing would be considerably more severe and this has been addressed under Physical Disturbance.

    Intermediate Low High Decline Low

    Additional information

    Predation
    Eunicella verrucosa may be damaged or destroyed by the ovalid snail Simnia patula. The snails feed on (Lebour, 1932) and are expected to lay their eggs on Eunicella verrucosa. Theodor (1967) describes how the snail Simnia spelta causes denudation of branches of Eunicella stricta, rarely destroying the colony but causing bare skeleton to attract fouling organisms. The mechanism of destruction might be that described by Main (1982) for Simnia barbarensis which strips the soft tissues of the host and lays its egg capsules on the internal skeleton. In late July 2001, a high proportion of Eunicella verrucosa on the north coast of Lundy, England were observed to be dead or part dead with only the external skin of the coenenchyme remaining (K. Hiscock, own observations). Simnia patula were later found on colonies (R. Irving, pers. comm.).

    Recoverability
    Pentapora foliacea has good reproductive and recolonizing abilities. It has been recorded as recovering in 3.5 years after almost total loss of a local population (Cocito et al., 1998b). Eunicella verrucosa is long lived, slow growing, and little is known of its reproduction. It is known to colonize wrecks at least several hundred metres from other hard substrata with sea fans, but is thought to have larvae which generally settle near the parent. Little is known of the reproduction and recruitment mechanisms in Axinella dissimilis or other sponges but branching sponges have not been observed to colonize wrecks and growth rate of Axinella dissimilis at Lundy is extremely slow (less than 1mm a year) (Keith Hiscock, pers. comm.). In monitoring studies at Lundy, branching sponges showed no recruitment, only losses over a 13 year period (Keith Hiscock pers. comm.). Recovery of some parts of this community may therefore take a long time or not occur. Other species in the biotope may have long-lived widely dispersing larvae. Mobile species such as the echinoderms and fish should be able to return rapidly. The recoverability of the other 3 biotopes represented by this review is likely to be similar to MCR.ErSEun.

    Importance review

    Policy/Legislation

    Habitats of Principal ImportanceFragile sponge and anthozoan communities on subtidal rocky habitats
    Habitats of Conservation ImportanceFragile sponge and anthozoan communities
    Habitats Directive Annex 1Reefs
    UK Biodiversity Action Plan PriorityFragile sponge and anthozoan communities on subtidal rocky habitats

    Exploitation

    There is no known exploitation of the 3 selected key or important characterizing species in this biotope. Eunicella verrucosa is subject to a UK Biodiversity Action Plan (Anonymous, 1999l). The sea urchin Echinus esculentus is potentially subject to exploitation. The roe may be collected locally for eating but the main reason for extraction is for the curio trade. The possibility of a sea urchin fishery in Shetland for the Japanese market has been investigated recently (Penfold et al. 1996).

    Additional information

    The biotope as a whole is not subject to any management measures. However, one of the selected characterizing species, Eunicella verrucosa is the subject of a UK Biodiversity Action Plan (Anonymous, 1999(l)).

    Eunicella verrucosa is protected under schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 against killing, injuring, taking possession and sale and is the subject of a UK Biodiversity Action Plan. Echinus esculentus, a characterizing species in the biotope, is listed under Schedule 7 of The Wildlife (NI) Order as an animal that must not be sold alive or dead at any time.)

    Bibliography

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    2. Anonymous, 1999l. Pink sea-fan (Eunicella verrucosa). Species Action Plan. In UK Biodiversity Group. Tranche 2 Action Plans. English Nature for the UK Biodiversity Group, Peterborough., English Nature for the UK Biodiversity Group, Peterborough.
    3. Banks, P.D. & Brown, K.M., 2002. Hydrocarbon effects on fouling assemblages: the importance of taxonomic differences, seasonal, and tidal variation. Marine Environmental Research, 53 (3), 311-326.
    4. Bell, J.J. & Turner, J.R., 2000. Factors influencing the density and morphometrics of the cup coral Caryophyllia smithii in Lough Hyne. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 80, 437-441.
    5. Bell, J.J., 2002. Morphological responses of a cup coral to environmental gradients. Sarsia, 87, 319-330.
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    Citation

    This review can be cited as:

    Readman, J.A.J. & Jackson, A. & Hiscock, K 2016. Eunicella verrucosa and Pentapora foliacea on wave-exposed 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. Available from: http://www.marlin.ac.uk/habitat/detail/77

    Last Updated: 31/05/2016