Yellow staghorn sponge (Axinella dissimilis)

Distribution data supplied by the Ocean Biodiversity Information System (OBIS). To interrogate UK data visit the NBN Atlas.Map Help

Summary

Description

A medium sized, branching, finger-like sponge. Usually about 15 cm high and yellow / orange in colour. The branches are approximately oval and are rather irregular in diameter along their length, being typically around 1.5 cm. The sponge often branches in nearly the same plane forming a rough fan-shape. There is a short stem, rather thicker than the branches. The sponge surface has a velvety texture and is moderately firm but elastic.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Present at a few sites around Mull, the south west of England and the western extremities of Wales. In Ireland there are records from the south east, the south west, and along the Atlantic coast round to the north east.

Global distribution

South western British Isles, the Channel Isles, Atlantic coasts of France and Spain. Recorded also from Iceland.

Habitat

Axinella dissimilis is typically found in exposed open coasts, on upward facing bedrock or other hard surfaces in the circalittoral zone.

Depth range

? - 100+

Identifying features

  • A yellow / orange branching sponge about 15 cm in height.
  • Skeletal spicules give the surface a velvety texture.
  • Sponge surface cracks if bent more than 90 °C.
  • A number of short, shallow grooves radiate from the oscula.

Additional information

Axinella polypoides is still used by some authors (e.g. Hayward and Ryland, 1995). However, Axinella polypoides is now considered to be a separate species confined to the Mediterranean (Howson & Picton, 1997). Axinella dissimilis may be confused with other branching sponges e.g. Stelligera stuposa and Raspailia hispida. However the relatively thicker branches and grooves surrounding the oscula are distinguishing features.

Listed by

- none -

Biology review

Taxonomy

LevelScientific nameCommon name
PhylumPorifera
ClassDemospongiae
OrderAxinellida
FamilyAxinellidae
GenusAxinella
Authority(Bowerbank, 1866)
Recent SynonymsAxinella polypoides Schmidt, 1862

Biology

ParameterData
Typical abundanceModerate density
Male size rangeup to 15cm
Male size at maturity
Female size rangeMedium(11-20 cm)
Female size at maturity
Growth formFan-like
Growth rateNo information found
Body flexibilityHigh (greater than 45 degrees)
Mobility
Characteristic feeding methodActive suspension feeder, No information
Diet/food source
Typically feeds onSuspended particulate matter.
Sociability
Environmental positionEpibenthic
DependencyNo information found.
SupportsNo information found
Is the species harmful?Data deficient

Biology information

Size range refers to height. There is no information detailing whether the sexes are separate. Although elastic and flexible the surface of the sponge cracks if bent more than 90° (Moss & Ackers 1982). There is no information regarding the toxicity of this species.

Habitat preferences

ParameterData
Physiographic preferencesOpen coast, Offshore seabed
Biological zone preferencesLower circalittoral, Lower infralittoral, Upper circalittoral
Substratum / habitat preferencesBedrock, Large to very large boulders
Tidal strength preferences
Wave exposure preferencesExposed, Extremely exposed, Moderately exposed, Very exposed
Salinity preferencesFull (30-40 psu)
Depth range? - 100+
Other preferencesNo text entered
Migration PatternNon-migratory or resident

Habitat Information

Konnecker (1977) also records Axinella dissimilis as an offshore species found on rock patches surrounded by shell gravel or coarse sand. In the Channel Islands, Brittany and Lough Hyne, Co. Cork the species also occurs on infralittoral bedrock (Picton & Costello, 1997). The sponge is recorded from depths of at least 100 m (Cabioch, 1968)

Life history

Adult characteristics

ParameterData
Reproductive typeNo information
Reproductive frequency No information
Fecundity (number of eggs)No information
Generation timeInsufficient information
Age at maturityInsufficient information
SeasonInsufficient information
Life spanInsufficient information

Larval characteristics

ParameterData
Larval/propagule type-
Larval/juvenile development No information
Duration of larval stageNo information
Larval dispersal potential No information
Larval settlement periodInsufficient information

Life history information

No information is available regarding the longevity or reproductive mechanism of this species.

Sensitivity reviewHow is sensitivity assessed?

Physical pressures

Use / to open/close text displayed

 IntoleranceRecoverabilitySensitivityEvidence / Confidence
Substratum loss [Show more]

Substratum loss

Benchmark. All of the substratum occupied by the species or biotope under consideration is removed. A single event is assumed for sensitivity assessment. Once the activity or event has stopped (or between regular events) suitable substratum remains or is deposited. Species or community recovery assumes that the substratum within the habitat preferences of the original species or community is present. Further details

Evidence

The species is permanently attached to the substratum. Substratum loss would result in the entire population. No information is available regarding the reproduction or dispersal abilities of this species so no assessment of recoverability can be made. Most sponges however, tend to be slow growing and long lived.
High No information High High
Smothering [Show more]

Smothering

Benchmark. All of the population of a species or an area of a biotope is smothered by sediment to a depth of 5 cm above the substratum for one month. Impermeable materials, such as concrete, oil, or tar, are likely to have a greater effect. Further details.

Evidence

Axinella dissimilis is an upright branching sponge up to 15 cm in height. Smothering by 5 cm of sediment may cover or damage some individuals of the population. No information is available regarding the reproduction or dispersal abilities of this species so no assessment of recoverability can be made. Most sponges however, tend to be slow growing and long lived.
Intermediate No information High Low
Increase in suspended sediment [Show more]

Increase in suspended sediment

Benchmark. An arbitrary short-term, acute change in background suspended sediment concentration e.g., a change of 100 mg/l for one month. The resultant light attenuation effects are addressed under turbidity, and the effects of rapid settling out of suspended sediment are addressed under smothering. Further details

Evidence

Sponges are active particulate suspension feeders. Increases in deposition of suspended sediment may interfere with feeding, clogging pores and channels etc. Many sponges have cleaning mechanisms for dealing with siltation such as sloughing of outer cells or mucus production. No information is available regarding the reproduction or dispersal abilities of this species so no assessment of recoverability can be made. Most sponges however, tend to be slow growing and long lived.
Intermediate No information High Low
Decrease in suspended sediment [Show more]

Decrease in suspended sediment

Benchmark. An arbitrary short-term, acute change in background suspended sediment concentration e.g., a change of 100 mg/l for one month. The resultant light attenuation effects are addressed under turbidity, and the effects of rapid settling out of suspended sediment are addressed under smothering. Further details

Evidence

No information
Desiccation [Show more]

Desiccation

  1. A normally subtidal, demersal or pelagic species including intertidal migratory or under-boulder species is continuously exposed to air and sunshine for one hour.
  2. A normally intertidal species or community is exposed to a change in desiccation equivalent to a change in position of one vertical biological zone on the shore, e.g., from upper eulittoral to the mid eulittoral or from sublittoral fringe to lower eulittoral for a period of one year. Further details.

Evidence

The species inhabits the lower infralittoral and circalittoral zones and as such is never exposed to the air. Desiccation, although unlikely, would probably result in death. No information is available regarding the reproduction or dispersal abilities of this species so no assessment of recoverability can be made. Most sponges however, tend to be slow growing and long lived.
High No information High Low
Increase in emergence regime [Show more]

Increase in emergence regime

Benchmark. A one hour change in the time covered or not covered by the sea for a period of one year. Further details

Evidence

The species inhabits the lower infralittoral and circalittoral zones and as such is never subject to an emergence regime. Emergence, although unlikely, would probably result in death. No information is available regarding the reproduction or dispersal abilities of this species so no assessment of recoverability can be made. Most sponges however, tend to be slow growing and long lived.
High No information High Low
Decrease in emergence regime [Show more]

Decrease in emergence regime

Benchmark. A one hour change in the time covered or not covered by the sea for a period of one year. Further details

Evidence

No information
Increase in water flow rate [Show more]

Increase in water flow rate

A change of two categories in water flow rate (view glossary) for 1 year, for example, from moderately strong (1-3 knots) to very weak (negligible). Further details

Evidence

Axinella dissimilis inhabits rocky, wave exposed areas where water flow rate is potentially high. The species has an upright branching growth form protruding up in to water column. Large increases in water flow rate may interfere with the posture of the animal, cause physical damage. Reductions in water flow rate may affect feeding efficiency. No information is available regarding growth rates or recovery from physical damage. The cellular level of organisation in Porifera facilitates regeneration.
Low No information Moderate Low
Decrease in water flow rate [Show more]

Decrease in water flow rate

A change of two categories in water flow rate (view glossary) for 1 year, for example, from moderately strong (1-3 knots) to very weak (negligible). Further details

Evidence

No information
Increase in temperature [Show more]

Increase in temperature

  1. A short-term, acute change in temperature; e.g., a 5°C change in the temperature range for three consecutive days. This definition includes ‘short-term’ thermal discharges.
  2. A long-term, chronic change in temperature; e.g. a 2°C change in the temperature range for a year. This definition includes ‘long term’ thermal discharges.

For intertidal species or communities, the range of temperatures includes the air temperature regime for that species or community. Further details

Evidence

There is no available information about the tolerance of Axinella dissimilis to changes in temperature. In the British Isles it has a mainly southern and western distribution. The species is found in warmer waters as far south as Spain. It is replaced in the Mediterranean by the very similar species, Axinella polypoides (Howson & Picton, 1997). Long term increases in temperature may cause extension of the British Isles populations and decreases in temperature may result in population shrinkage. Short term acute changes in temperature may also cause death. No information is available regarding the reproduction or dispersal abilities of this species so no assessment of recoverability can be made. Most sponges however, tend to be slow growing and long lived.
Intermediate No information High Low
Decrease in temperature [Show more]

Decrease in temperature

  1. A short-term, acute change in temperature; e.g., a 5°C change in the temperature range for three consecutive days. This definition includes ‘short-term’ thermal discharges.
  2. A long-term, chronic change in temperature; e.g. a 2°C change in the temperature range for a year. This definition includes ‘long term’ thermal discharges.

For intertidal species or communities, the range of temperatures includes the air temperature regime for that species or community. Further details

Evidence

No information
Increase in turbidity [Show more]

Increase in turbidity

  1. A short-term, acute change; e.g., two categories of the water clarity scale (see glossary) for one month, such as from medium to extreme turbidity.
  2. A long-term, chronic change; e.g., one category of the water clarity scale (see glossary) for one year, such as from low to medium turbidity. Further details

Evidence

The species has no ability for visual perception hence it is tolerant to changes in light penetration and attenuation. It is found at depths of at least 100 m (Cabioch, 1968) where light levels are low.
Tolerant No information Not sensitive High
Decrease in turbidity [Show more]

Decrease in turbidity

  1. A short-term, acute change; e.g., two categories of the water clarity scale (see glossary) for one month, such as from medium to extreme turbidity.
  2. A long-term, chronic change; e.g., one category of the water clarity scale (see glossary) for one year, such as from low to medium turbidity. Further details

Evidence

No information
Increase in wave exposure [Show more]

Increase in wave exposure

A change of two ranks on the wave exposure scale (view glossary) e.g., from Exposed to Extremely exposed for a period of one year. Further details

Evidence

Axinella dissimilis lives in wave exposed areas. Decreases in wave exposure may result in conditions outside the preferred range of the species and may cause shrinkage in population distribution. No information is available regarding the reproduction or dispersal abilities of this species so no assessment of recoverability can be made. Most sponges however, tend to be slow growing and long lived.
Intermediate No information High Very low
Decrease in wave exposure [Show more]

Decrease in wave exposure

A change of two ranks on the wave exposure scale (view glossary) e.g., from Exposed to Extremely exposed for a period of one year. Further details

Evidence

No information
Noise [Show more]

Noise

  1. Underwater noise levels e.g., the regular passing of a 30-metre trawler at 100 metres or a working cutter-suction transfer dredge at 100 metres for one month during important feeding or breeding periods.
  2. Atmospheric noise levels e.g., the regular passing of a Boeing 737 passenger jet 300 metres overhead for one month during important feeding or breeding periods. Further details

Evidence

It is unlikely that the species has any facility for detection of noise vibrations
Tolerant No information Not sensitive Low
Visual presence [Show more]

Visual presence

Benchmark. The continuous presence for one month of moving objects not naturally found in the marine environment (e.g., boats, machinery, and humans) within the visual envelope of the species or community under consideration. Further details

Evidence

The species has no ability for visual perception hence it is not sensitive to visual disturbance. It is found at depths of at least 100 m (Cabioch, 1968) where light levels are low.
Tolerant No information Not sensitive High
Abrasion & physical disturbance [Show more]

Abrasion & physical disturbance

Benchmark. Force equivalent to a standard scallop dredge landing on or being dragged across the organism. A single event is assumed for assessment. This factor includes mechanical interference, crushing, physical blows against, or rubbing and erosion of the organism or habitat of interest. Where trampling is relevant, the evidence and trampling intensity will be reported in the rationale. Further details.

Evidence

The species is quite elastic and flexible (Moss & Ackers, 1982). However, if the sponge is bent more than 90 ° the surface will crack. The sponge branches upright into the water column. Abrasion may physically damage or dislodge the sponge. No information is available regarding the reproduction or dispersal abilities of this species so no assessment of recoverability can be made. Most sponges however, tend to be slow growing and long lived.
Intermediate No information High Low
Displacement [Show more]

Displacement

Benchmark. Removal of the organism from the substratum and displacement from its original position onto a suitable substratum. A single event is assumed for assessment. Further details

Evidence

The species is permanently attached to the substratum. It is unlikely to be able to reform this attachment if displaced. No information is available regarding the reproduction or dispersal abilities of this species so no assessment of recoverability can be made. Most sponges however, tend to be slow growing and long lived.
High No information High Low

Chemical pressures

Use [show more] / [show less] to open/close text displayed

 IntoleranceRecoverabilitySensitivityEvidence / Confidence
Synthetic compound contamination [Show more]

Synthetic compound contamination

Sensitivity is assessed against the available evidence for the effects of contaminants on the species (or closely related species at low confidence) or community of interest. For example:

  • evidence of mass mortality of a population of the species or community of interest (either short or long term) in response to a contaminant will be ranked as high sensitivity;
  • evidence of reduced abundance, or extent of a population of the species or community of interest (either short or long term) in response to a contaminant will be ranked as intermediate sensitivity;
  • evidence of sub-lethal effects or reduced reproductive potential of a population of the species or community of interest will be assessed as low sensitivity.

The evidence used is stated in the rationale. Where the assessment can be based on a known activity then this is stated. The tolerance to contaminants of species of interest will be included in the rationale when available; together with relevant supporting material. Further details.

Evidence

Insufficient
information
No information No information No information Not relevant
Heavy metal contamination [Show more]

Heavy metal contamination

Evidence

Insufficient
information
No information No information No information Not relevant
Hydrocarbon contamination [Show more]

Hydrocarbon contamination

Evidence

Insufficient
information
No information No information No information Not relevant
Radionuclide contamination [Show more]

Radionuclide contamination

Evidence

Insufficient
information
No information No information No information Not relevant
Changes in nutrient levels [Show more]

Changes in nutrient levels

Evidence

Insufficient
information
No information No information No information Not relevant
Increase in salinity [Show more]

Increase in salinity

  1. A short-term, acute change; e.g., a change of two categories from the MNCR salinity scale for one week (view glossary) such as from full to reduced.
  2. A long-term, chronic change; e.g., a change of one category from the MNCR salinity scale for one year (view glossary) such as from reduced to low. Further details.

Evidence

The species inhabits open coasts and off-shore areas where salinity is likely to be full. Decreases in salinity will result in conditions outside the preferred range for the species, probably causing death..
High No information High Low
Decrease in salinity [Show more]

Decrease in salinity

  1. A short-term, acute change; e.g., a change of two categories from the MNCR salinity scale for one week (view glossary) such as from full to reduced.
  2. A long-term, chronic change; e.g., a change of one category from the MNCR salinity scale for one year (view glossary) such as from reduced to low. Further details.

Evidence

No information
Changes in oxygenation [Show more]

Changes in oxygenation

Benchmark.  Exposure to a dissolved oxygen concentration of 2 mg/l for one week. Further details.

Evidence

There is no information regarding the tolerance of Axinella dissimilis to changes in oxygen concentration. However, Cole et al., (1999) suggest possible adverse effects on marine species below 4 mg/l and probable adverse effects below 2mg/l. No information is available regarding the reproduction or dispersal abilities of this species so no assessment of recoverability can be made. Most sponges however, tend to be slow growing and long lived.
Intermediate No information High Low

Biological pressures

Use [show more] / [show less] to open/close text displayed

 IntoleranceRecoverabilitySensitivityEvidence / Confidence
Introduction of microbial pathogens/parasites [Show more]

Introduction of microbial pathogens/parasites

Benchmark. Sensitivity can only be assessed relative to a known, named disease, likely to cause partial loss of a species population or community. Further details.

Evidence

Insufficient
information
No information No information No information Not relevant
Introduction of non-native species [Show more]

Introduction of non-native species

Sensitivity assessed against the likely effect of the introduction of alien or non-native species in Britain or Ireland. Further details.

Evidence

Insufficient
information
No information No information No information Not relevant
Extraction of this species [Show more]

Extraction of this species

Benchmark. Extraction removes 50% of the species or community from the area under consideration. Sensitivity will be assessed as 'intermediate'. The habitat remains intact or recovers rapidly. Any effects of the extraction process on the habitat itself are addressed under other factors, e.g. displacement, abrasion and physical disturbance, and substratum loss. Further details.

Evidence

As this sponge species has no current commercial, culinary or research value, it is unlikely that it will be exploited and extracted.
Not relevant Not relevant Not relevant Low
Extraction of other species [Show more]

Extraction of other species

Benchmark. A species that is a required host or prey for the species under consideration (and assuming that no alternative host exists) or a keystone species in a biotope is removed. Any effects of the extraction process on the habitat itself are addressed under other factors, e.g. displacement, abrasion and physical disturbance, and substratum loss. Further details.

Evidence

Axinella dissimilis has no known obligate relationships so the loss of other species is unlikely to have an impact.
Tolerant No information Not sensitive Very low

Additional information

Importance review

Policy/legislation

- no data -

Status

Non-native

ParameterData
Native-
Origin-
Date Arrived-

Importance information

Axinella dissimilis may occur amongst quite dense assemblages of animals but there is no information regarding actual abundances (Cabioch, 1968). Many sponges provide shelter for small organisms such as shrimps but there are no records of such with Axinella dissimilis.

Bibliography

  1. Bowerbank, J.S., 1865. A monograph of the British Spongiadae, vol. II. London: Ray Society.

  2. Cabioch, L., 1968. Contribution a la connaissance des peuplements benthiques de la Manche occidentale. Cahiers de Biologie Marine, 9, 493 - 720.

  3. Howson, C.M. & Picton, B.E., 1997. The species directory of the marine fauna and flora of the British Isles and surrounding seas. Belfast: Ulster Museum. [Ulster Museum publication, no. 276.]

  4. JNCC (Joint Nature Conservation Committee), 1999. Marine Environment Resource Mapping And Information Database (MERMAID): Marine Nature Conservation Review Survey Database. [on-line] http://www.jncc.gov.uk/mermaid

  5. Konnecker, G., 1973. Littoral and benthic investigations on the west coast of Ireland - I. Section A: Faunistic and Ecological Studies. The sponge fauna of Kilkieran Bay and adjacent area. Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, 73(B), 451 - 472.

  6. Moss, D., & Ackers, G. (eds.), 1982. The UCS Sponge Guide. Produced by R. Earll. Ross-on-Wye: The Underwater Conservation Society.

  7. Picton, B.E. & Costello, M.J., 1998. BioMar biotope viewer: a guide to marine habitats, fauna and flora of Britain and Ireland. [CD-ROM] Environmental Sciences Unit, Trinity College, Dublin.

Datasets

  1. Centre for Environmental Data and Recording, 2018. Ulster Museum Marine Surveys of Northern Ireland Coastal Waters. Occurrence dataset https://www.nmni.com/CEDaR/CEDaR-Centre-for-Environmental-Data-and-Recording.aspx accessed via NBNAtlas.org on 2018-09-25.

  2. NBN (National Biodiversity Network) Atlas. Available from: https://www.nbnatlas.org.

  3. OBIS (Ocean Biodiversity Information System),  2024. Global map of species distribution using gridded data. Available from: Ocean Biogeographic Information System. www.iobis.org. Accessed: 2024-04-21

Citation

This review can be cited as:

Jackson, A. 2008. Axinella dissimilis Yellow staghorn sponge. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 21-04-2024]. Available from: https://www.marlin.ac.uk/species/detail/1380

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Last Updated: 17/04/2008