provided by British Antarctic Survey
Usually orange in colour but varies from pink through to white. Colonies start life encrusting surfaces, but when two growing edges meet they grow against each other, up and out into the water column to form walls. These erect structures can be quite big (up to 15cm high).
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25m to deep water, common on hard substrates in just a few localities in the South Orkney archipelago to the southern Antarctic Peninsula and Ross Sea. There are 3 other similar Antarctic species, though 1 (I. virgula) is only known from the Ross Sea.
I. similis, though not widespread in Antarctica, is common and important where it does occur. The species is a bioconstructor and the spaces enclosed by its walls are a haven for many species, as is also the case with Reteporella frigida. I. similis often occurs in areas of higher water flow. It is a suspension feeder and eats phytoplankton, probably smaller ciliates and flagellates. Its main predators are probably nudibranch sea slugs and pycnogonans.
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