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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 coarse sediment

Physical habitat description

Salinity Full (30-35 ppt)
Wave exposure Exposed, Moderately exposed
Tidal streams
Substratum Shingle; gravel; coarse 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.LCS Littoral coarse sediment

  • 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 coarse sediments include shores of mobile pebbles, cobbles and gravel, sometimes with varying amounts of coarse sand. The sediment is highly mobile and subject to high degrees of drying between tides. As a result, few species are able to survive in this environment. Beaches of mobile cobbles and pebbles tend to be devoid of macroinfauna, while gravelly shores may support limited numbers of crustaceans, such as Echinogammarus incertae sedis planicrurus.


Littoral coarse sediments are found along relatively exposed open shores, where wave action prevents finer sediments from settling. Coarse sediments may also be present on the upper parts of shores where there are more stable, sandy biotopes on the lower and mid shore.

Temporal variation

The sediment particle size structure may vary seasonally, with relatively finer sediments able to settle during calmer conditions in summer. Where the sediment grain size is very large (at the interface between sediment and boulder shores), cobbles may be mobile during exposed winter conditions, but stable enough during summer months to support limited juvenile rocky shore epifauna (e.g. juvenile barnacles).

Characterising species

Characterising species data not applicable.

Similar biotopes or habitat types

Not applicable or unknown.

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