The fractal properties of specimens of a planar branching sponge Raspailia inaequalis (Porifera, Demospongiae) were determined by analysing digitised photographs. The specimens, collected from a single site in northeastern New Zealand, had a wide range of morphology. Three different fractal methods were used: box counting; a method that gives the scaling of branch length with distance from the base of the fan; and an allometric analysis of the dependence of frontal area on specimen size. All three approaches gave a similar value for the fractal dimension. The conjecture that the specimens have a fractal branching structure is consistent with the results of a Horton analysis of their branching pattern. There is a significant relationship between fractal dimension and number of fingers, which implies that a simple count of the number of fingers is as useful for discriminating between individuals as the more complex fractal analysis. Using this relation, sponges from a site with less water movement are inferred to have a lower fractal dimension. This result is in agreement with the predictions of the Kaandorp model of sponge growth.
KeywordsSponge Significant Relationship Fractal Dimension Water Movement Branch Length
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.