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Caryophyllia smithii and Actinauge richardi assemblage on Atlantic upper bathyal coarse sediment

Distribution MapBIO Map Legend

Summary

UK and Ireland classification

Description

Biotope comprising cup coral Caryophyllia smithii and anemone Actinauge richardi attached to small pieces of hard material in the sediment. This assemblage is observed on the shallow parts of Rockall Bank on sand with some gravel/pebble components.

Depth range

200-600 m

Additional information

-

Listed By

Sensitivity reviewHow is sensitivity assessed?

Sensitivity characteristics of the habitat and relevant characteristic species

This biotope occurs in the Atlantic upper bathyal zone on coarse sediment and is characterized by two dominant species, Caryophyllia smithii and Actinauge richardi. Therefore, the loss of these species and coarse substrata will result in a change of biotope. Other species present in the assemblages can include Munida, Caryophyllidae, Ophiactis, Anomiidae sp., and encrusting Porifera.

Resilience and recovery rates of habitat

Caryophyllia smithii is a small (maximum 3 cm across) solitary coral and is distributed from Greece (Koukouras, 2010) to the North Sea (Coolen et al., 2015), with a large depth range from coastal tide swept sites to >1000 m (Wood, 2005). Manuel (1988) states that two forms of Caryophyllia smithii exist; a shallower form (Caryophyllia smithii var. smithii) which is found in depths down to 100 m, and a deep water form (Caryophyllia smithii var. clavus) which is found from 50-1000 m. The anemone Actinauge richardi is 8 cm in diameter and 12 cm tall when fully expanded, and anchors itself into the sediment by invaginating its column to enclose a ball of sediment at its base, as well as attaching to hard substrata such as cobbles or shells (Manuel, 1988). Actinauge richardi has a large geographical distribution, with OBIS records spanning from Norway to Western Sahara and across the Mediterranean Sea, and a depth range from 70-2,000 m (Bilewitch, 2018). This biotope (M.AtUB.Co.SolScl.CarAct) has only been documented in two locations within the UK, Rockall Bank and Wyville Thomson Ridge (Howell et al., 2013; Howell et al., 2007; JNCC, 2015), between 200 and 1,100 m.

Caryophyllia smithii is gonochoric, producing gametes between January and March, and is reported to have a high fecundity of ‘many thousands’ (Tranter et al., 1982). Caryophyllia smithii larvae are planktotrophic and have a free-floating planktonic larval duration (PLD) of 8-10 weeks (Tranter et al., 1982).  However, asexual reproduction and division have also been observed (Hiscock & Howlett, 1976). The long PLD described for Caryophyllia smithii means there is the potential for high dispersal (Kinlan et al., 2005) as dispersal distance is correlated with the duration of the free-floating stage (Shanks, 2009). Hard substrata are required for larvae to settle such as exposed rock (Hiscock & Howelett, 1977), rock covered by sediment veneer (Bell & Turner, 2000), or an artificial structure such as wrecks (Coolen et al., 2015), offshore oil platforms (Guerin, 2009) and pipelines (Lacey & Hayes, 2019). Caryophyllia smithii is a relatively slow-growing species, with Fowler & Laffoley (1993) reporting horizontal growth rates of corallum in adults as 0.5-1 mm per year. Although no evidence of Caryophyllia smithii age was found, Caroselli et al. (2017) reported that the maximum lifespan of Caryophyllia inornata was 22 years.

The HMS Scylla was intentionally sunk on the 27th March 2004 in Whitsand Bay, Cornwall to act as an artificial reef. Hiscock et al. (2010) recorded the succession of the biological community on the wreck for five years following the sinking of the ship. Caryophyllia smithii colonized the wreck of the Scylla within a year, however, this may be due to the time of the vessel sinking and if removed recovery may take up to two years to colonize.

Little evidence was found about the life history and reproduction of Actinauge richardi. Anthozoa are commonly either gonochoric or hermaphroditic. Mature gametes are shed into the coelenteron and are subsequently spawned into the water column through the mouth (Ruppert et al., 2004). Mercier & Hamel (2009) studied the reproductive periodicity, settlement and growth of the deep-sea Allantactis parasitica off Labrador (eastern Canada). Allantactis parasitica is also a Hormathiidae anemone, like Actinauge richardi, that is often hosted by gastropods on their shells. In this gonochoric Hormathiid, broadcast spawning occurs twice a year (spring and fall) and is correlated with the maximum phytoplankton and detritus abundance. Planulae are fully developed after 22 days, and settle onto the host’s shells between 40-44 days post-fertilization. However, in the absence of a host, settlement was delayed for up to 22 weeks. Juveniles were 1 cm in basal diameter and 1.2 cm in height after 21 months of growth – fully-grown adults are ~35 mm in basal diameter.

Resilience Assessment. No direct evidence of resilience or recoverability was found for Caryophyllia smithii or Actinauge richardi. However, there are reports that Caryophyllia smithii colonized HMS Scylla within one year of the vessel sinking (Hiscock et al., 2010). Morri et al. (2000) also reported that Caryophyllia smithii (<5 mm) were amongst sessile fauna fouling oceanographic instrumentation immersed for three months, at a depth of 90 m. Gates et al. (2019) also reported that Actinauge richardi colonized the protective structures of wellheads within 28 months of the structure being installed, as well as being distributed on surrounding seabed. Although this is evidence of colonization onto virgin surfaces, the evidence suggests that full recovery could be possible within 2-10 years. Therefore, where resistance is ‘None’, ‘Low’ or ‘Medium’, resilience is assessed as ‘Medium’, albeit with ‘Low’ confidence.

Hydrological Pressures

Use / to open/close text displayedResistanceResilienceSensitivity
High High Not sensitive
Q: Low
A: NR
C: NR
Q: High
A: High
C: High
Q: Low
A: Low
C: Low

No direct evidence was found on the effect of changes in local temperature at the benchmark level on the biotope. The only evidence found on the temperature range of the biotope was from Graves (in prep). This study predicted the distribution of Caryophyllia smithii and Actinauge richardi across the UK and Irish waters using habitat suitability modelling. From their biotope distribution data, Graves (in prep) characterized the thermal niche of Caryophyllia smithii and Actinauge richardi assemblages across the UK and Ireland as 7.38 to 9.38°C.

Caryophyllia smithii is found throughout the UK and has been recorded in Greece (Koukouras, 2010). It is therefore unlikely to be significantly affected by an increase in temperature at the benchmark level. Caroselli et al. (2017) reported that over one year, Caryophyllia inornata – a species similar to Caryophyllia smithii – was exposed to temperatures ranging from 11.8-22.8°C in Elba Sands (northwest Mediterranean Sea). However, Tranter et al. (1982) suggested Caryophyllia smithii reproduction was cued by seasonal increases in seawater temperature. Although, it is worth noting this observation was made in aquaria using individuals collected within Plymouth Sound (coastal) and were not from deeper waters. Nonetheless, it may still be that unseasonal increases in temperature may disrupt natural reproductive processes and negatively influence recruitment patterns.

No direct evidence was found on Actinauge richardi sensitivity to changes in local temperature. However, the distribution of Actinauge richardi is large, from Norway to Western Africa and across the Mediterranean Sea, as well as occupying a wide depth range (70-2,000 m). It is therefore likely that Actinauge richardi also occupies a relatively wide thermal niche. Within UK waters, Gates et al. (2019) reported the presence of Actinauge richardi on the protective structures of wellheads in the North Sea at a temperature of 10.32°C.

It is worth noting that this biotope occurs at the deeper end of the two species’ distribution (200-1,100 m), particularly Caryophyllia smithii. Although the temperature of deeper waters tends to be less variable, the biotope is distributed within the permanent thermocline, 600-1000 m (White & Dorschel, 2010) and will, therefore, still experience some seasonal temperature variations.

Sensitivity assessment. It is unlikely that Caryophyllia smithii and Actinauge richardi will be significantly impacted by an increase in temperature at the benchmark level. Therefore, resistance has been assessed as ‘High’, resilience assessed as ‘High’ and sensitivity assessed as ‘Not sensitive’.

Low Medium Medium
Q: Low
A: NR
C: NR
Q: Medium
A: Medium
C: Medium
Q: Low
A: Low
C: Low

No direct evidence was found on the effect of changes in local temperature at the benchmark level on the biotope. The only evidence found on the temperature range of the biotope was from Graves (in prep). This study predicted the distribution of Caryophyllia smithii and Actinauge richardi across the UK and Irish waters using habitat suitability modelling. From their biotope distribution data, Graves (in prep) characterized the thermal niche of Caryophyllia smithii and Actinauge richardi assemblages across the UK and Ireland as 7.38-9.38°C.

Caryophyllia smithii is found throughout the UK and has been recorded in Greece (Koukouras, 2010), at a maximum depth of 1,100 m. At the depth distribution of this biotope (200-1,100 m), Caryophyllia smithii is likely at the very lower limit of its temperature range. Therefore, a decrease in temperature at the benchmark level may cause mortality in Caryophyllia richardi.

No direct evidence was found on Actinauge richardi sensitivity to changes in local temperature. The distribution of Actinauge richardi is vast, from Norway to Western Africa and across the Mediterranean Sea, as well as occupying a wide depth range (70-2,000 m). It is therefore likely that Actinauge richardi also occupies a relatively wide thermal niche. Within UK waters, Gates et al. (2019) reported the presence of Actinauge richardi on the protective structures of wellheads in the North Sea at a temperature of 10.32°C.

Sensitivity assessment. A decrease in temperature at the benchmark level may cause mortality in Caryophyllia richardi. Although it is likely Actinauge richardi would be unaffected, the mortality of Caryophyllia smithii would result in the loss of a characterizing feature. Therefore, resistance has been assessed as ‘Low’, resilience assessed as ‘Medium’ and sensitivity assessed as ‘Medium’.

Low Medium Medium
Q: Low
A: NR
C: NR
Q: Medium
A: Medium
C: Medium
Q: Low
A: Low
C: Low

Caryophyllia smithii has a large depth distribution, from the intertidal, down to 1,100 m. Caryophyllia smithii has been reported in deep rock pools so is likely to have some tolerance to changes in salinity. However, Actinauge richardi is distributed between 70-2,000 m. In the North-East Atlantic, these depths are characterized by full salinity (30-35 psu). At these depths, Actinauge richardi is unlikely to experience natural changes in salinity.

Sensitivity assessment. Due to the relatively stable salinity conditions that Actinauge richardi, as a species, and the wider biotope occurs, a change in salinity due to human activities may cause mortality in Actinauge richardi. Therefore, resistance is assessed as ‘Low’, resilience assessed as ‘Medium’ and overall sensitivity as ‘Medium’.

Low Medium Medium
Q: Low
A: NR
C: NR
Q: Medium
A: Medium
C: Medium
Q: Low
A: Low
C: Low

Caryophyllia smithii has a large depth distribution, from the intertidal, down to 1,100 m. Caryophyllia smithii has been reported in deep rock pools so is likely to have some tolerance to changes in salinity. However, Actinauge richardi is distributed between 70-2,000 m. In the North-East Atlantic, these depths are characterized by full salinity (30-35 psu). At these depths, Actinauge richardi is unlikely to experience natural changes in salinity.

Sensitivity assessment. Due to the relatively stable salinity conditions that Actinauge richardi, as a species, and the wider biotope occurs in, a change in salinity due to human activities may cause mortality in Actinauge richardi. Therefore, resistance is assessed as ‘Low’, resilience assessed as ‘Medium’ and overall sensitivity as ‘Medium’.

High High Not sensitive
Q: Low
A: NR
C: NR
Q: High
A: High
C: High
Q: Low
A: Low
C: Low

Caryophyllia smithii has been observed in the North Sea where the residual current speeds are between 0.02-0.08 m/s (Coolen et al., 2015). In a coastal setting, Caryophyllia smithii has also been reported by Bell & Turner (2000) to occur in areas of current speeds of up to 3.0 m/s at Whirlpool Cliff, Lough Hyne Marine Nature Reserve (Co. Cork, Ireland).

No evidence was found for Actinauge richardi resistance to changes in water flow, although it will have an impact. Current speeds that are too fast will cause the individuals to withdraw (reducing the ability to feed), and they may be severely damaged or dislodged. As a suspension feeder, if current speeds are too slow, the number of food particles delivered will be reduced. The coarse substrata that this biotope occurs on suggest that local currents must be relatively high compared to other substrata types, such as mud. In addition, Urra et al. (2021) reported that in the Gulf of Cadiz (Southern Spain and Portugal), Actinauge richardi occurs on rippled sand – an indicator of strong bottom currents. Furthermore, Urra et al. (2021) suggest that oceanographic, as well as trophic drivers, determine the spatial distribution of Actinauge richardi.

The change in water flow is most likely to have a bigger impact on the sediment, which characterizes the biotope, than the species alone. Although no direct evidence of current flow has been found, water flow in a suitable biotope habitat is likely to be between 0.1 and 1.0 m/s, based on the characteristic coarse sediment of the biotope and the Hjulstrom-Sundborg diagram (Earle, 2019).  Furthermore, this is more likely to be nearer the 1.0 m/s than 0.1 m/s given that the biotope is found at the Wyville Thomson Ridge – a bathymetric feature associated with high-energy currents (JNCC, 2010). Therefore, an increase in tidal flow at the benchmark will likely not affect the biotope. An increase in water flow will likely introduce more gravel and, therefore, increase the available suitable substrata for Caryophyllia smithii to settle. A decrease at the benchmark is also not likely to affect the biotope. Although a decrease will likely see an increase in coarse sand, gravel is still likely to remain.

Sensitivity assessment. A change in water flow at the benchmark is unlikely to affect the biotope. An increase or decrease in water current speed is not likely to change the substrata that characterize this biotope, and the habitat will remain suitable. It is also unlikely to adversely affect the characterizing species, Caryophyllia smithii or Actinauge richardi, themselves. Therefore, resistance is assessed as ‘High’ and resilience is assessed as ‘High’. This results in an overall sensitivity assessment of ‘Not sensitive’ at the benchmark level.  

Not relevant (NR) Not relevant (NR) Not relevant (NR)
Q: NR
A: NR
C: NR
Q: NR
A: NR
C: NR
Q: NR
A: NR
C: NR

Caryophyllia smithii and Actinauge richardi assemblages are found at upper bathyal depths; therefore, they will not be impacted by a change in emergence. As a result, this pressure is assessed as ‘Not relevant’.

Not relevant (NR) Not relevant (NR) Not relevant (NR)
Q: NR
A: NR
C: NR
Q: NR
A: NR
C: NR
Q: NR
A: NR
C: NR

Caryophyllia smithii and Actinauge richardi assemblages are found at upper bathyal depths, therefore, they will not be impacted by wave exposure. As a result, this pressure is assessed as ‘Not relevant’.

Chemical Pressures

Use / to open/close text displayedResistanceResilienceSensitivity
Not Assessed (NA) Not assessed (NA) Not assessed (NA)
Q: NR
A: NR
C: NR
Q: NR
A: NR
C: 
Q: NR
A: NR
C: NR

Not assessed.

Not Assessed (NA) Not assessed (NA) Not assessed (NA)
Q: NR
A: NR
C: NR
Q: NR
A: NR
C: NR
Q: NR
A: NR
C: NR

Not assessed.

Not Assessed (NA) Not assessed (NA) Not assessed (NA)
Q: NR
A: NR
C: NR
Q: NR
A: NR
C: NR
Q: NR
A: NR
C: NR

Not assessed.

No evidence (NEv) Not relevant (NR) No evidence (NEv)
Q: NR
A: NR
C: NR
Q: NR
A: NR
C: NR
Q: NR
A: NR
C: NR

 ‘No evidence’ was found.

Not Assessed (NA) Not assessed (NA) Not assessed (NA)
Q: NR
A: NR
C: NR
Q: NR
A: NR
C: NR
Q: NR
A: NR
C: NR

Not assessed.

Low Medium Medium
Q: Low
A: NR
C: NR
Q: Medium
A: Medium
C: Medium
Q: Low
A: Low
C: Low

Limited direct evidence is currently available for the effect of dissolved oxygen concentration on either characterizing species. Bell (2002) reported that an oxycline at Lough Hyne (<5% surface concentration) limited vertical colonization by Caryophyllia smithii.  In addition, Hiscock & Hoare (1975) reported that Caryophyllia smithii was excluded from Abereiddy Quarry (Pembrokeshire) below 12 m, where oxygen levels fell below 5% saturation (ca 0.5 mg/l) in summer.

In general, respiration in most marine invertebrates does not appear to be significantly affected until very low concentrations of dissolved oxygen are reached. For many benthic invertebrates, this concentration is approximately 2 ml/l (ca 2.66 mg/l) (Herreid, 1980; Rosenberg et al., 1991; Diaz & Rosenberg, 1995). Cole et al. (1999) suggest possible adverse effects on marine species below 4 mg/l and probable adverse effects below 2 mg/l.

Sensitivity assessment. The characterizing species, Caryophyllia smithii and Actinauge richardi, of this biotope, may be affected by hypoxic events. Therefore, resistance is assessed as ‘Low’ and resilience assessed as ‘Medium’, resulting in an overall sensitivity score of ‘Medium’.

No evidence (NEv) Not relevant (NR) No evidence (NEv)
Q: NR
A: NR
C: NR
Q: NR
A: NR
C: NR
Q: NR
A: NR
C: NR

Nutrient availability will be important to Caryophyllia smithii and Actinauge richardi, however, no evidence was found on the effect of nutrient enrichment on the biotope. Therefore, this pressure is recorded as ‘No evidence’.

No evidence (NEv) Not relevant (NR) No evidence (NEv)
Q: NR
A: NR
C: NR
Q: NR
A: NR
C: NR
Q: NR
A: NR
C: NR

Particulate organic matter (POM) is a food source for Caryophyllia smithii and Actinauge richardi as passive suspension feeders. However, no evidence was found on the effect of organic enrichment at the level of the benchmark on Caryophyllia smithii and Actinauge richardi. Therefore, ‘No evidence’ is recorded.

Physical Pressures

Use / to open/close text displayedResistanceResilienceSensitivity
None Very Low High
Q: High
A: High
C: High
Q: High
A: High
C: High
Q: High
A: High
C: High

All marine habitats and benthic species are considered to have a resistance of ‘None’ to this pressure and to be unable to recover from a permanent loss of available habitat (resilience is ‘Very low’). Caryophyllia smithii and Actinauge richardi assemblages are, therefore, considered to have ‘High’ sensitivity to this pressure.

None Very Low High
Q: High
A: High
C: High
Q: High
A: High
C: High
Q: High
A: High
C: High

The larvae of Caryophyllia smithii require hard substrata for settlement, the absence of which makes the habitat unsuitable. The coarse substrata on which the biotope occurs is reliant upon the gravel within the gravelly sand, as it is this that larvae settle on.

Sensitivity assessment. This biotope occurs only on coarse sediments, not on rock (soft or hard) or artificial substrata. As a specific sediment type defines the biotope, a change in seabed type will result in a change in the biotope classification and, therefore, the loss of the original biotope. Therefore, resistance is assessed as ‘None’, resilience as ‘Very low’ and overall sensitivity as ‘High’.

None Very Low High
Q: High
A: High
C: High
Q: High
A: High
C: High
Q: High
A: High
C: High

The larvae of Caryophyllia smithii require hard substrata for settlement, the absence of which makes the habitat unsuitable. The coarse substrata on which the biotope occurs is reliant upon the gravel within the gravelly sand, as this is what the larvae settle on.

Sensitivity assessment. This biotope occurs only on coarse sediments. As a specific sediment type defines the biotope, a change in sediment type will result in a change in the biotope classification and therefore the loss of the original biotope. In addition, a change from gravelly sand to another sediment type, e.g. sand or mud, would make the habitat unsuitable for Caryophyllia. Therefore, resistance is assessed as ‘None’, resilience as ‘Very low’ and overall sensitivity as ‘High’.

None Medium Medium
Q: High
A: High
C: High
Q: Medium
A: Medium
C: Medium
Q: Medium
A: Medium
C: Medium

As Caryophyllia smithii and Actinauge richardi assemblages are characterized by sessile species, removal of the substratum at the benchmark level would destroy the biotope within the affected area. Therefore, the resistance of Caryophyllia smithii and Actinauge richardi assemblage is assessed as ‘None’, resilience as ‘Medium’ and overall sensitivity to the pressure is assessed as ‘Medium’.

Low Medium Medium
Q: High
A: High
C: High
Q: Medium
A: Medium
C: Medium
Q: Medium
A: Medium
C: Medium

The main sources of potential abrasion and disturbance relevant to Caryophyllia smithii and Actinauge richardi are from bottom fishing (e.g. beam trawls), deep-sea mining activity (e.g. mining vehicles) and from anchoring or positioning of offshore structures. No evidence was found of the direct impacts of abrasion on Caryophyllia smithii or Actinauge richardi. However, it is likely that bottom-fishing activities, e.g. trawling, would cause significant damage to both of the characterizing biotope species, particularly Actinauge richardi, which is soft-bodied. There is evidence from bycatch and scientific trawl data that both Caryophyllia smithii and Actinauge richardi are removed by bottom-trawling gear (Castro et al., 2012; Ordonez-Del Pazo et al., 2014; Terribilie et al., 2016; Waller et al., 2005).

Sensitivity assessment. No direct experimental studies on the effects of abrasion on Caryophyllia smithii and Actinauge richardi assemblages are available. However, comparative studies between disturbed and undisturbed areas indicate that abrasion and disturbance from bottom trawling on coarse gravels and sands, reduce the abundance of organisms, biomass and species diversity (Collie et al., 1997; Bradshaw et al., 2000).  In addition, evidence that both of the characteristic species are removed as bycatch suggests that trawling may result in significant damage.  Therefore, resistance is assessed as ‘Low’, resilience as ‘Medium’, and overall sensitivity is assessed as ‘Medium.’ 

Low Medium Medium
Q: High
A: High
C: High
Q: Medium
A: Medium
C: Medium
Q: Medium
A: Medium
C: Medium

Penetration and or disturbance of the substratum would result in similar, if not identical, results as abrasion or removal of Caryophyllia smithii and Actinauge richardi assemblages (see abrasion/disturbance).

Sensitivity assessment. A resistance of ‘Low’ has been suggested.  If the substratum were penetrated or disturbed, the overlying biotope would be significantly affected. Therefore, resilience has been assessed as ‘Medium’ resulting in sensitivity being ‘Medium’.

High High Not sensitive
Q: High
A: High
C: High
Q: High
A: High
C: High
Q: Medium
A: Medium
C: Medium

Bell & Turner (2000) studied populations of Caryophyllia smithii at three sites of differing sedimentation regimes in Lough Hyne, Ireland. Calyx size was largest at the site of least sedimentation and smallest at the site of most sedimentation. In contrast, the height of individuals was greatest at the site of most sedimentation and smallest at the site of least sedimentation. The height of individuals correlated with the level of surrounding sediment. High density correlated with high sedimentation (Bell & Turner, 2000). Furthermore, Farrow et al. (1983) suggested that Caryophyllia smithii is ‘remarkably tolerant of high turbidity’ after it was found in a highly turbid fjord, Knight Inlet, in British Columbia. 

While siltation may inhibit the feeding of Actinauge richardi, the species has been reported by Gates et al. (2019) to colonize the protective structures of wellheads in the North Sea. Between the deployment and recovery of protective structures, drilling continued. During that period, Actinauge richardi colonized the structure and continued to persist. This suggests that Actinauge richardi has some resistance to periodic increases in suspended solids, i.e. drill cuttings.

Sensitivity assessment. From the limiting evidence available, the characterizing species of this biotope are likely to tolerate a change in suspended solids at the benchmark level. Resistance is assessed at ‘High’, resilience is assessed as ‘High’, giving an overall sensitivity of ‘Not sensitive’. 

High High Not sensitive
Q: High
A: High
C: High
Q: High
A: High
C: High
Q: High
A: High
C: High

Caryophyllia smithii is small (approx. 3 cm height) and would therefore likely be inundated in a 'light' sedimentation event. However, Bell & Turner (2000) reported Caryophyllia smithii was abundant at sites of 'moderate' sedimentation (7 mm ± 0.5 mm) in Lough Hyne. It is therefore likely that Caryophyllia smithii would be resistant to periodic sedimentation. If 5 cm of sediment were removed rapidly, via tidal currents, Caryophyllia smithii would likely remain within the biotope.  Burton et al. (2010) partly attributed fluctuations in Caryophyllia smithii abundance at Skomer Island to surface sediment cover.  Bell (2002) reported that juvenile Caryophyllia smithii are morphologically variable and initially undergo rapid growth with tall and thin forms in deeper, sheltered, relatively sedimented conditions near Lough Hyne, Ireland.  It was concluded that this was to escape the thin layer of sediment present.  Hiscock & Howlett (1976) reported that Caryophyllia smithii is sediment-tolerant because of its efficient sediment removal mechanisms.

No direct evidence was available on the effects of smothering and siltation on Actinauge richardi. However, the study by Durán-Fuentes et al. (2022) suggests that some anemone species are tolerant to high sedimentation. In their study, they found that at least four species of anemone occupy the area proximal to the Maddalena River mouth (Columbian Caribbean), and therefore experience high turbidity and sedimentation (143.9x106 t per year). Actinauge richardi can likely withstand sedimentation at the benchmark level, particularly if the sediment is quickly removed, e.g. by tidal currents, and the biotope would remain, especially as Actinauge richardi can withdraw and protect its feeding apparatus.

Sensitivity assessment. With the limited available evidence, the biotope may not be significantly impacted at the benchmark level. Therefore, resistance is assessed as ‘High’ and resilience assessed as ‘High’, resulting in an overall sensitivity score of ‘Not sensitive’.

None Medium Medium
Q: Medium
A: Low
C: Medium
Q: Medium
A: Medium
C: Medium
Q: Medium
A: Low
C: Medium

Caryophyllia smithii is small (approx. 3 cm height) and would therefore likely be inundated in a 'light' sedimentation event. However, Bell & Turner (2000) reported Caryophyllia smithii was abundant at sites of 'moderate' sedimentation (7 mm ± 0.5 mm) in Lough Hyne. It is therefore likely that Caryophyllia smithii would be resistant to periodic sedimentation. If 5 cm of sediment were removed rapidly, via tidal currents, Caryophyllia smithii would likely remain within the biotope.  Burton et al. (2010) partly attributed fluctuations in Caryophyllia smithii abundance at Skomer Island to surface sediment cover.  Bell (2002) reported that juvenile Caryophyllia smithii are morphologically variable and initially undergo rapid growth with tall and thin forms in deeper, sheltered, relatively sedimented conditions near Lough Hyne, Ireland.  It was concluded that this was to escape the thin layer of sediment present.  Hiscock & Howlett (1976) said that Caryophyllia smithii is sediment-tolerant because of its efficient sediment removal mechanisms.

No direct evidence is available on the effects of smothering and siltation on Actinauge richardi. However, the study by Durán-Fuentes et al. (2022) suggests that some anemone species are tolerant to high sedimentation. In their study, they found that at least four species of anemone occupy the area proximal to the Maddalena River mouth (Columbian Caribbean) and, therefore, experience high turbidity and sedimentation (143.9x106 t per year).

Sensitivity assessment. Smothering by 30 cm of sediment will completely bury both Caryophyllia smithii and Actinauge richardi because of their small size. As this biotope is not characterized by fast tidal currents, it is also unlikely that the sediment will be quickly removed. It is therefore likely that the characterizing species will suffocate and/or starve.  As a result, resistance is assessed as ‘None’ and resilience assessed as ‘Medium’, giving an overall sensitivity score of ‘Medium’.

Not Assessed (NA) Not assessed (NA) Not assessed (NA)
Q: NR
A: NR
C: NR
Q: NR
A: NR
C: NR
Q: NR
A: NR
C: NR

Actinauge richardi was observed in the Northern Tyrrhenian Sea (Italy) with a plastic bag incorporated into its basal disc (Macini et al., 2021).  However, this pressure is ‘Not assessed’.

No evidence (NEv) Not relevant (NR) No evidence (NEv)
Q: NR
A: NR
C: NR
Q: NR
A: NR
C: NR
Q: NR
A: NR
C: NR

‘No evidence’ was found.

Not relevant (NR) Not relevant (NR) Not relevant (NR)
Q: NR
A: NR
C: NR
Q: NR
A: NR
C: NR
Q: NR
A: NR
C: NR

Whilst no evidence could be found on the effects of noise or vibrations on the characterizing species, it is unlikely that these species would be adversely affected by noise. This pressure ‘Not relevant’.

High High Not sensitive
Q: High
A: High
C: High
Q: High
A: High
C: High
Q: High
A: High
C: High

Whilst no evidence could be found for the effect of light on the characterizing species of these biotopes, it is unlikely that these species would be impacted.  Although the biotope is characterized as ‘deep sea’, both of the characterizing species are found within the photic zone (< 200 m) independent of this biotope. If anthropogenic light, e.g. from oil and gas drilling or mining machinery, was introduced to the biotope, the characterizing species would not be detrimentally affected. Therefore, resistance to this pressure is assessed as 'High' and resilience as 'High'. This biotope is therefore considered to be 'Not sensitive' at the benchmark level.

No evidence (NEv) Not relevant (NR) No evidence (NEv)
Q: NR
A: NR
C: NR
Q: NR
A: NR
C: NR
Q: NR
A: NR
C: NR

Caryophyllia smithii and Actinauge richardi have a planktonic larval stage and therefore connectivity and recruitment could be affected by a permanent or temporary barrier to propagule dispersal. However, ‘No evidence is available to assess this pressure.

Not relevant (NR) Not relevant (NR) Not relevant (NR)
Q: NR
A: NR
C: NR
Q: NR
A: NR
C: NR
Q: NR
A: NR
C: NR

Caryophyllia smithii and Actinauge richardi assemblages are characterized by sessile invertebrates in deep water and are unlikely to be affected by an increased risk of collision as defined under the pressure. This pressure is therefore assessed as ‘Not relevant’.

Not relevant (NR) Not relevant (NR) Not relevant (NR)
Q: NR
A: NR
C: 
Q: NR
A: NR
C: NR
Q: NR
A: NR
C: NR

Caryophyllia smithii and Actinauge richardi assemblages are characterized by invertebrates that are not reliant on vision, as such, the biotope will not be affected by 'Visual disturbance'. This pressure is assessed as ‘Not relevant’.

Biological Pressures

Use / to open/close text displayedResistanceResilienceSensitivity
Not relevant (NR) Not relevant (NR) Not relevant (NR)
Q: NR
A: NR
C: NR
Q: NR
A: NR
C: NR
Q: NR
A: NR
C: NR

This pressure is not relevant to the characterizing species within this biotope. Therefore, an assessment of ‘Not relevant’ is recorded.

Not relevant (NR) Not relevant (NR) Not relevant (NR)
Q: NR
A: NR
C: NR
Q: NR
A: NR
C: NR
Q: NR
A: NR
C: NR

No alien or non-native species are known to compete with Caryophyllia smithii nor Actinauge richardi at upper bathyal depths.  As a result, this pressure is recorded as ‘Not relevant’.

No evidence (NEv) Not relevant (NR) No evidence (NEv)
Q: NR
A: NR
C: NR
Q: NR
A: NR
C: NR
Q: NR
A: NR
C: NR

No evidence’ was found on diseases that may affect either of the characterizing species.

Not relevant (NR) Not relevant (NR) Not relevant (NR)
Q: NR
A: NR
C: NR
Q: NR
A: NR
C: NR
Q: NR
A: NR
C: NR

The characterizing species associated with the biotope are not commercially targeted. Therefore, this pressure is assessed as ‘Not relevant’.

Low Medium Medium
Q: High
A: High
C: High
Q: Medium
A: Medium
C: Medium
Q: Medium
A: Medium
C: Medium

Although direct evidence was not found for Caryophyllia smithii, other Caryophyllidae solitary corals (Caryophyllia ambrosia, Caryophyllia cornuformis, Caryophyllia sequenzae) of similar size and morphology have been recorded in scientific trawls (Waller et al., 2005). Direct evidence is available for Actinauge richardi, which has been widely recorded in commercial trawl bycatch (Castro et al., 2012; Ordonez-Del Pazo et al., 2014) and scientific trawls (Terribilie et al., 2016).

Sensitivity assessment. The available evidence suggests that bottom-trawling activity readily removes the characterizing species of this biotope. Therefore, resistance is assessed as ‘Low’ and resilience as ‘Medium’, resulting in an overall sensitivity assessment of ‘Medium’.  

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Citation

This review can be cited as:

Graves, K.P., 2022. Caryophyllia smithii and Actinauge richardi assemblage on Atlantic upper bathyal coarse sediment. In Tyler-Walters H. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 04-02-2023]. Available from: https://marlin.ac.uk/habitat/detail/1237

Last Updated: 16/02/2022