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(Montagu, 1818)

Species Overview

Clathrina coriacea (Montagu, 1818) is easily distinguished by its three-dimensional trelliswork appearance, consisting of thin-walled anastomosing tubes, which encrust the surface. It normally has a white or yellow color. It is common in the shallow subtidal under overhangs and in the intertidal under boulders and in crevices.

Taxonomic Description

Colour: Typically pale yellow or yellowish white, occasionally bright lemon yellow. Yellow in alcohol.
Shape, size, surface and consistency: Small, flat cushions typically 1-3 cm in diameter, comprising a tightly knit trelliswork of tubes (Leucosolenia coriacea Bow.) about 1 mm in diameter having meshes of similar size (Clathrina coriacea Holland). There are no erect free branches. Several tubes join to share one common oscule, slightly raised above the surface (Clathrina coriacea Minch). The consistency is soft, compressible, fragile, delicate. The surface is microscopically smooth, except for some protruding spicules.
Spicules: (Clathrina coriacea spics) Calcareous. Regular equally angled triactines of 60-120 by 6-12 µm, no other spicules.
Skeleton: Spicules packed tangentially in the walls.
Reproduction: External buds were observed in August (Teissier, 1947in Lévi, 1950b)
Ecology: Primarily a shallow-water species. Found on clean rock surfaces, also under overhangs and boulders on the shore. Abundant on holdfasts of Laminaria, on the underside of rocks, on other sponges, and mud banks. "Littoral to 650 m".
Distribution: East Atlantic, from Arctic to South Africa (but see Remarks).
Etymology: coriaceus (Latin) = leathery, referring to the consistency.
Type specimen information: No type material in BMNH; type probably lost. MCS voucher: BELUM Mc5, Strangford Lough, Northern Ireland.


Burton (1963) regarded this species as one of several "named forms" comprising Clathrina coriacea, which name he accepted as valid for the whole complex. This complex was assumed to be cosmopolitan. Recent research (Solé-Cava et al., 1991) has shown that genetically such "named forms" may be distinct species, and it is possible that several such species, notably "named forms" C. contorta, C. cerebrum and C. clathrus may hide under the same general morphology described above. It is likely that true Clathrina coriacea have a limited distribution in the Eastern Atlantic, and do not occur elsewhere.
C. rubra is a dubious species differing from C. coriacea only in colour and some histological details.
This species is closest to Clathrina clathrus, with which it shares the exclusive possession of small regular triactines. Differences are the flat crust (cushion-shaped form in clathrus), the more tightly interwoven cormus, and the possession of a central oscule.
Clathrina lacunosa is closely related, but is clearly different in being stalked, and it has both triradiates and diactines.
Leucosolenia spp., although belonging to a different subclass, may be similar to C. coriacea. Their network of tubes is elevated into free-standing, bush-like masses of tubes. Their spiculation includes diactines and tetractines.
Source: Ackers et al., 1985, 1992 (J.D. Guiterman, D. Moss, B.E. Picton).

Clathrina coriacea