Description of biotope or habitat type
Lichens or small green algae on supralittoral and littoral fringe rock
Physical habitat description
|Salinity||Full (30-35 ppt), Variable (18-35 ppt)|
|Wave exposure||Very exposed, Exposed, Moderately exposed, Sheltered, Very sheltered|
|Substratum||Bedrock; boulders; cobbles|
|Zone||Littoral fringe, Supralittoral|
|Depth Band||Upper shore|
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.
- 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.
Lichen communities typically form a distinct zone or band in a 'splash' zone on most rocky shores. This splash zone occurs above the main intertidal zone (i.e. that subject to regular covering by the tide) and blends into angiosperm-dominated communities of coastal (terrestrial) habitats at its upper limits. The width of the splash zone varies considerably, depending on the degree of exposure of the shore to wave action. On very exposed coasts the zone is very wide, extending 10s of meters up cliffs, whilst in very sheltered sites it may be only a metre or so high. Several biotopes have been identified. Yellow and grey lichens such as Xanthoria parietina, Caloplaca marina, Caloplaca thallincola or Ramalina sp. dominate the supralittoral rock (YG) with the distinctive black band of Verrucaria maura occurring below in the littoral fringe (Ver.Ver; Ver.B). Small green seaweeds can sometimes be found in this splash zone, where localised conditions allow growth in what would otherwise be inhospitable conditions for seaweeds. Such an example is the green seaweed Prasiola stipitata which occurs in areas of nitrate enrichment from nearby roosting seabirds (Pra). The littoral fringe on soft rock can be characterised by the green seaweed Blidingia minima (Bli) while steep and vertical rock influenced by freshwater in the littoral fringe can be dominated by the green seaweeds Ulothrix flacca, Urospora penicilliformis and Urospora wormskioldii (UloUro). The winkle Littorina saxatilis is one of the few 'marine' species found in this environment. [Note: in EUNIS, this habitat is placed within Coastal habitats section B, as it strictly speaking occurs above the marine environment. In the UK marine surveys have traditionally included the lichen zone within intertidal surveys, so the habitat is retained here for UK purposes.]
This biotope complex is found in the littoral fringe and the supralittoral zone on all rocky shores if there is sufficient seawater spray to maintain a viable community.
No temporal variation data available.
|Taxon||Relative importance of taxon for defining this community (%)||Typical abundance - SACFOR scale||% of core records where taxon was recorded|
|Littorina saxatilis||5||Frequent||21-40 %|
|Prasiola stipitata||1||Rare||1-20 %|
|Ulothrix flacca||1||1-20 %|
|Urospora penicilliformis||1||1-20 %|
|Urospora wormskioldii||1||1-20 %|
|Blidingia minima||1||1-20 %|
|Caloplaca marina||5||Occasional||21-40 %|
|Caloplaca thallincola||17||Occasional||21-40 %|
|Verrucaria maura||61||Common||81-100 %|
|Xanthoria parietina||9||Frequent||41-60 %|
|Grey lichens||7||Frequent||21-40 %|
Similar biotopes or habitat types
Not applicable or unknown.
Classification history of this biotope or habitat type