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Arachnopusia inchoata Hayward & Thorpe, 1988

provided by British Antarctic Survey

Description

Yellow/brown to white in colour. This species is encrusting as small colonies but grows erect to form large foliaceous colonies 200cm in diameter. It is one of a number of species in this genus. Similar species are A. decepiens, A. columnaris and A. latiavicularis (mainly restricted to Antarctic Peninsula) and A. monoceros (mainly Subantarctic).

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Species details

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Species distribution

5m to deep water, on hard substrates. It is widely distributed in the Southern Ocean though not found in the Weddell Sea.

Some underwater walls and overhangs are dominated by the large foliaceous colonies of this species (e.g. at Signy Island). As many as 40 epifaunal species have been found living in a single A. inchoata colony. It is a good competitor for space against other bryozoans and encrusting animals, even sponges. It is a very unusual suspension feeder as it feeds throughout the entire year. It is eaten by the nudibranch mollusc Pseudotritonia gracilidens (which is camouflaged when against it) as well as by various pycnogonans.

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