Overview

Comprehensive Description

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.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.
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Description

This is one of the most conspicuous branching-erect sponges that occurs in the British Isles. It is yellow, pale orange or buff in colour and consists of thick branches approximately 1.5cm in diameter, arising from a thicker base. The surface of the sponge has a velvety appearance. The colony is typically the size of an adult's hand. The oscules are small and regularly spaced along the sides of the branches. They are placed in depressions and are often opposite, this can cause slight annulations on the branches. They have a number of short, shallow, surface grooves. These stellate grooves become more conspicuous when the specimen is out of water. This species may be confused with other branching-erect yellow sponges e.g. Stelligera stuposa and Raspailia hispida but can be distinguished from them by the relatively thicker branches and the presence of stellate grooves surrounding the oscules.
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Source: Encyclopedia of Marine Life of Britain and Ireland

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Distribution

This is a south-western species in the British Isles, occuring as far north as Anglesey and on the Atlantic coast of Ireland as far north as Rathlin Island, Co Antrim, there is one recent record from the west coast of Scotland.
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Source: Encyclopedia of Marine Life of Britain and Ireland

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Physical Description

Type Information

Holotype for Isodictya dissimilis Bowerbank, 1866
Catalog Number: USNM 5193
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Invertebrate Zoology
Preparation: Slide
Year Collected: 1865
Locality: Channel Islands, Guernsey Island, England, United Kingdom, North Atlantic Ocean
  • Holotype: Bowerbank. 1866. Ray Society. 2: 318-319, pl.55.
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© Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Invertebrate Zoology

Source: National Museum of Natural History Collections

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Ecology

Habitat

Depth range based on 41 specimens in 1 taxon.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 16 samples.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 14.3 - 44.5
  Temperature range (°C): 10.625 - 11.490
  Nitrate (umol/L): 6.621 - 8.324
  Salinity (PPS): 35.229 - 35.301
  Oxygen (ml/l): 6.013 - 6.153
  Phosphate (umol/l): 0.482 - 0.574
  Silicate (umol/l): 2.512 - 2.990

Graphical representation

Depth range (m): 14.3 - 44.5

Temperature range (°C): 10.625 - 11.490

Nitrate (umol/L): 6.621 - 8.324

Salinity (PPS): 35.229 - 35.301

Oxygen (ml/l): 6.013 - 6.153

Phosphate (umol/l): 0.482 - 0.574

Silicate (umol/l): 2.512 - 2.990
 
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 Axinella dissimilis is typically found in exposed open coasts, on upward facing bedrock or other hard surfaces in the circalittoral zone.
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This sponge is usually found on upward facing, circalittoral bedrock on exposed open coasts, however in the Channel Islands, Brittany and Lough Hyne, Co Cork it also occurs infralittoral bedrock.
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Source: Encyclopedia of Marine Life of Britain and Ireland

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