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Marine Habitat Classification

Description of biotope or habitat type

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   Oligochaetes in full salinity littoral mobile sand

Physical habitat description

Salinity Full (30-35 ppt)
Wave exposure Exposed, Moderately exposed, Sheltered
Tidal streams Moderately strong (1-3 kn)
Substratum Gravel, sand
Depth Band Lower shore, Mid shore, Upper shore
Other Features

Download comparative physical and biological data. The comparative tables enable a rapid comparison of the species composition and principal physical characteristics between a given set of biotopes.

Distribution of habitat LS.LSa.MoSa.Ol.FS Oligochaetes in full salinity littoral mobile sand

  • Records used to define the biotope (core records)
  • Other records assigned to this biotope, marked as 'certain'
  • Other records assigned to this biotope, marked as 'uncertain'

Point data based on records in the UK Marine Recorder Snapshot.


A species-poor community of oligochaetes occurring in fully marine conditions on open shores with mobile, medium to fine, usually clean, sand. Oligochaetes, including enchytraeid oligochaetes, constitute the infaunal assemblage. On rare occasions individuals of polychaete or crustacean species may be encountered (e.g. Nephtys spp., Eurydice pulchra, Bathyporeia spp.), though these are not characterising for the biotope and if present in any significant abundance, the area should be classed as AmSco.


Where Ol.FS is situated on the mid shore, BarSh and/or BarSa may be present on the upper shore, and lower down on the shore, AmSco.Sco and AmSco.Pon may be found. Ol may also occur on the upper shore, with AmSco.Eur present on the mid shore, and Po.Pful or Po.Aten on the lower shore. Tal may be found on the upper shore where driftlines of decomposing seaweed and other debris accumulate.

Temporal variation

Wave exposure may be higher on some beaches during winter than during the summer months, leading to the disappearance of infaunal species in winter. Where this happens, the biotope may change to BarSa. If conditions become more sheltered, seasonally or permanently, the sediment may become colonised by a greater range of species and the area may change to AmSco.

Characterising species

Taxon Relative importance of taxon for defining this community (%) Typical abundance - SACFOR scale Typical abundance - (count per m2) % of core records where taxon was recorded
Oligochaeta 90 Abundant 1941 61-80%
Enchytraeidae 7 Common 49 21-40%

Similar biotopes or habitat types

Occurs on upper estuarine muddy shores where there is no strong river flow, and hence the sediment is very soft. While the physical environment is very different, the infaunal community is similarly poor. It consists of oligochaetes, including Tubificoides benedii and Baltidrilus costatus, as well as the polychaete Capitella capitata.

Occurs in similar sediment types, under more exposed conditions, on open coasts. Infauna is virtually absent as a result of the high mobility of the sediment.

Occurs on open fully marine shores with clean mobile sand. The infauna is more diverse, characterised by a range of crustaceans such as Pontocrates arenarius, Bathyporeia spp., Haustorius arenarius, and E. pulchra, as well as the polychaetes Scolelepis spp.

Classification history of this biotope or habitat type

Classification version Code
1997 (97.06) LGS.S.AEur (part)
1997 (97.06) LGS.S.BarSnd (part)

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