Pycnoclavella aurilucens Garstang, 1891

Orange Lights Seasquirt

Pycnoclavella aurilucens

Description: Colony consists of a tough basal sheet from which the zooids arise. The zooids are small and would be very inconspicuous if it were not for the fact that each one bears three bright orange or cream markings. Zooids 6mm tall x 2mm diameter.

Habitat: Found from the kelp zone to 30 metres or more, usually on vertical rockfaces encrusting areas to 10cm or more in diameter. Sometimes colonies may extend up hydroids such as Nemertesia antennina. This species seems to prefer areas with high levels of water movement, exposed kelp forests or areas with strong tidal streams.

Ecology: Pycnoclavella overwinters as a basal mass with no zooids, the zooids grow up in spring, produce larvae in late summer, then degenerate.

Distribution: Apparently a South Western species in the British Isles, Pycnoclavella is frequent in the right habitat around south-west England from Plymouth to Lundy Is., and on the west coast of Ireland as far north as Malin Head.

Similar Species: There is no other British tunicate with free zooids with markings like those of Pycnoclavella. Some polyclinids have conspicuous spots but their zooids are fused into a common test.

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). Pycnoclavella aurilucens Garstang, 1891. [In] Encyclopedia of Marine Life of Britain and Ireland.
https://www.habitas.org.uk/marinelife/species.asp?item=ZD120 Accessed on 2024-07-13

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