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Marine Habitat Classification

Description of biotope or habitat type

To understand more about what this page is describing, see How to use the classification. See also How to cite.

   Littoral rock (and other hard substrata)

Physical habitat description

Salinity Full (30-35 ppt), Variable (18-35 ppt)
Wave exposure Extremely exposed, Very exposed, Exposed, Moderately exposed, Sheltered, Very sheltered, Extremely sheltered
Tidal streams
Substratum Bedrock; boulders; cobbles and pebbles
Zone Eulittoral, Littoral fringe, Supralittoral
Depth Band Lower shore, Mid shore, Strandline, 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 LR Littoral rock (and other hard substrata)

  • 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.


Littoral rock includes habitats of bedrock, boulders and cobbles which occur in the intertidal zone (the area of the shore between high and low tides) and the splash zone. The upper limit is marked by the top of the lichen zone and the lower limit by the top of the laminarian kelp zone. There are many physical variables affecting rocky shore communities - wave exposure, salinity, temperature and the diurnal emersion and immersion of the shore. Wave exposure is most commonly used to characterise littoral rock, from 'extremely exposed' on the open coast to 'extremely sheltered' in enclosed inlets. Exposed shores tend to support faunal-dominated communities of barnacles and mussels and some robust seaweeds. Sheltered shores are most notable for their dense cover of fucoid seaweeds, with distinctive zones occurring down the shore. In between these extremes of wave exposure, on moderately exposed shores, mosaics of seaweeds and barnacles are more typical.


No situation data available.

Temporal variation

No temporal variation data available.

Characterising species

Characterising species data not applicable.

Similar biotopes or habitat types

Not applicable or unknown.

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