Marine Biology

, Volume 138, Issue 3, pp 503–510 | Cite as

The fractal branching of an arborescent sponge

  • Edward R. Abraham


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.


Sponge Significant Relationship Fractal Dimension Water Movement Branch Length 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edward R. Abraham
    • 1
  1. 1.National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), P.O. Box 14-901, Kilbirnie, Wellington, New Zealand e-mail: Tel.: +64-4-3860329; Fax: +64-4-3862153NZ

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