Description of Mixed turf of hydroids and large ascidians with [Swiftia pallida] and [Caryophyllia smithii] on weakly tide-swept circalittoral rock
This biotope typically occurs from exposed through to sheltered circalittoral bedrock or boulders subject to moderately strong to weak tidal streams. It is found in water depths ranging from 4m to 37m. This biotope is distinguished by frequently occurring Swiftia pallida, abundant Caryophilia smithii and a diverse range of ascidians including Clavelina lepadiformis, Ascidia mentula, Polycarpa pomaria, Diazona violacea and Corella parallelogramma. A sparse, yet diverse hydroid turf is often apparent, with species such as Aglaophenia tubulifera, Nemertesia antennina, Polyplumaria frutescens, Halecium halecinum, Abietinaria abietina, Nemertesia ramosa and Halopteris catharina often recorded. Spaces amongst the turf are usually colonised by the polychaete Pomatoceros triqueter and encrusting red algae. Crinoids such as Antedon petasus, Antedon bifida and Leptometra celtica may be seen filter feeding on the tops of outcrops and boulders, along with the soft coral Alcyonium digitatum. Other echinoderms such as Echinus esculentus, Crossaster papposus and Asterias rubens may also be recorded. There may also be a bryozoan component to the sparse faunal turf. Species such as Securiflustra securifrons and Eucratea loricata as well as the crustose Parasmittina trispinosa are all usually present. There may be a few isolated growths of sponge, such as Iophonopsis nigricans, Axinella infundibuliformis and Haliclona urceolus. Other species that may be present include the brachiopod Terebratulina retusa and the top shell Calliostoma zizyphinum. The crustacean Munida rugosa may be visible in crevices. All records are from the west coast of Scotland (east coast of Lewis /Outer Hebrides). Situation: Above this biotope, kelp forests and parks are typically found in the infralittoral, with Laminaria saccharina and Laminaria hyperborea. This biotope is found in Scottish Sealochs and, in the most sheltered situations, may graduate into unit A4.314 at greater depths.