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Rossella racovitzae Topsent, 1901

provided by British Antarctic Survey

Description

White, yellow or orange in colour. There are several morphs, many of which were once considered separate species. The commonly seen types are large (up to around 50cm high) and barrel or vase shaped, while the budding type is smaller (up to 15cm high) and vase or egg shaped.

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Species details

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Species distribution

18 to 2,000m, on hard or soft substrates from Sub-Antarctica and South Georgia to the Antarctic Peninsula and Continent

Observations suggest that glass sponges such as Rossella racovitzae are important in the colonisation of soft substrates. They deposit spicules which eventually form hard mats that other sponges, unable to colonise soft surfaces, can settle on. Rossella racovitzae reproduces by asexual budding as well as sexually. Asexual reproduction is unusual in Antarctic sponges. This sponge is a suspension feeder and contains diatoms living within its cells, but their role is unclear. The diatoms are photosynthetic and can use light which is transferred into the sponge body by the sponge spicules, which act as natural optical fibres.
The main predators of Rossella racovitzae are seastars, and the dorid nudibranch Austrodoris kerguelenensis.

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