Aglaophenia kirchenpaueri (Heller, 1868)

Aglaophenia kirchenpaueri

Description: The main stems of this species bear side branches in alternating series on opposite sides giving a feather-like colony. The colour of living specimens is brown with a green tinge due to zooxanthellae. The feeding polyps are borne in a single series along the side branches, each surrounded by three defensive polyps. A specific feature is the basal leaf of the corbula which projects downwards in this species, rather than being curled round like the rest. Typically 5 cm in height by about 1 cm across the colony.

Habitat: This is a scarce Aglaophenia species found in clear water deeper than 10 metres, where it forms loose clumps on horizontal rock surfaces in moderate tidal streams and moderate to high levels of wave exposure.

Distribution: In the British Isles this species seems to be confined to the south and west, with records from Skomer, Lundy, the Blasket Islands and Galway Bay.

Similar Species: All species of Aglaophenia are similar. Gymnangium montagui is more robust and does not have corbulae.

Key Identification Features:

Distribution Map: NBN map : National Biodiversity Network mapping facility, data for UK.

WoRMS: Species record : World Register of Marine Species.

iNaturalist: Species account : iNaturalist World Species Observations database

 Picton, B.E. & Morrow, C.C. (2016). Aglaophenia kirchenpaueri (Heller, 1868). [In] Encyclopedia of Marine Life of Britain and Ireland. Accessed on 2024-06-14

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