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Marine Habitat Classification

Description of biotope or habitat type

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   Ampelisca spp., Photis longicaudata and other tube-building amphipods and polychaetes in infralittoral sandy mud

Physical habitat description

Salinity Full (30-35 ppt)
Wave exposure
Tidal streams
Substratum Sandy muds
Zone Infralittoral
Depth Band
Other Features

Biotope origin

Derived using data from Various
Faunal group Infauna

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 SS.SMu.ISaMu.AmpPlon <I>Ampelisca</I> spp., <I>Photis longicaudata</I> and other tube-building amphipods and polychaetes in infralittoral sandy mud

  • 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'
  • Predicted extent of the level 3 (for sublittoral rock & deep sea) or 4 (for sublittoral sediment) habitat

Point data based on records in the UK Marine Recorder Snapshot. Predicted habitat extent is from UKSeaMap.


Sublittoral stable cohesive sandy muds occurring over a wide depth range may support large populations of semi-permanent tube-building amphipods and polychaetes. In particular large numbers of the amphipods Ampelisca spp. and Photis longicaudata may be present along with polychaetes such as Lagis koreni. Other important taxa may include bivalves such as Nucula nitidosa, Chamelea gallina, Abra alba and Kurtiella bidentata and the echinoderms Echinocardium cordatum and Acrocnida brachiata. In some areas, polychaetes such as Spiophanes bombyx and Polydora ciliata may also be conspicuously numerous. This community is poorly known, appearing to occur in restricted patches. In some areas it is possible that SS.SMu.ISaMUuAmpPlon may develop as a result of moderate organic enrichment. A similar community in mud has also been reported in the Baltic which is characterised by large populations of amphipods such as Ampelisca spp., Corophium spp. and Haploops tubicola (see Petersen 1918; Thorson 1957) and it is not known if SS.SMu.ISaMu.AmpPlon is a UK variant of this biotope. Additionally, in organically enriched areas, the community may be characterised by capitellids and Mediomastus fragilis.


No situation data available.

Temporal variation

In some areas of the Irish Sea this biotope is reported to be a temporal variant of SS.SSa.CMuSa.AalbNuc, SS.SSa.IMuSa.SsubNhom and SS.SMu.CSaMu.LkorPpel. Some researchers consider these biotopes to be part of a wider muddy sand community which varies temporally depending on changes in sediment deposition and recruitment as was reported in areas of Red Wharf Bay off the Welsh coast (E.I.S. Rees pers. comm. 2002)

Characterising species

Taxon Relative importance of taxon for defining this community (%) % of core records where taxon was recorded Relative frequency %
Ophiura 17 1-20% 0.3
Polydora 13 1-20% 0.2
Tubificoides benedii 6 21-40% 37.5
Ampelisca 6 1-20% 0.5
Paguridae 6 1-20% 0.2
Mediomastus fragilis 4 1-20% 6.7
Capitella capitata 4 1-20% 5.7
Nemertea 3 1-20% 2.7
Cerianthus lloydii 3 1-20% 0.1
Aequipecten opercularis 3 1-20% 0.1
Kurtiella bidentata 2 1-20% 2.3
Serpulidae 2 1-20% 0.1
Nemertesia antennina 2 1-20% 0.1
Ophryotrocha hartmanni 1 1-20% 19.3
Crassicorophium bonellii 1 1-20% 1.6
Psamathe fusca 1 1-20% 1.1
Protodorvillea kefersteini 1 1-20% 1
Photis longicaudata 1 1-20% 0.7
Phyllodoce mucosa 1 1-20% 0.4
Pholoe inornata 1 1-20% 0.3
Eteone longa 1 1-20% 0.2
Spirobranchus triqueter 1 1-20% 0.2
Tubulanus polymorphus 1 1-20% 0.2
Eumida bahusiensis 1 1-20% 0.2
Calliostoma zizyphinum 1 1-20% 0.1
Pagurus bernhardus 1 1-20% 0.1
Buccinum undatum 1 1-20% 0.1
Asterias rubens 1 1-20% 0.1
Inachus 1 1-20% 0.1
Lanice conchilega 1 1-20% 0.1
Aonides oxycephala 1 1-20% 0.1
Flustra foliacea 1 1-20% 0.1
Hydroides 1 1-20% 0

Similar biotopes or habitat types

Similar to SS.SMu.ISaMu.AmpPlon but differs in the variety and abundance of amphipods and is found in muddier sediments in sheltered sealochs such as Strangford Lough. It is possible that these two biotopes are actually part of a wider biotope which contains more than one entity depending on its geographic location and prevailing environmental conditions.

Classification history of this biotope or habitat type

Classification version Code Habitat name
2015 (15.03) SS.SMu.ISaMu.AmpPlon Ampelisca spp., Photis longicaudata and other tube-building amphipods and polychaetes in infralittoral sandy mud
2004 (04.05) SS.SMu.ISaMu.AmpPlon Ampelisca spp., Photis longicaudata and other tube-building amphipods and polychaetes in infralittoral sandy mud
1997 (97.06) Part SS.LMS.SMu.HedMac Hediste diversicolor and Macoma balthica in sandy mud shores

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