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Marine Habitat Classification


Description of biotope or habitat type

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   Sabellaria spinulosa on stable circalittoral mixed sediment


Habitat (physical) description

Salinity Full (30-35 ppt)
Wave exposure Moderately exposed, Sheltered
Tidal streams Strong (3-6 kn), Moderately strong (1-3 kn)
Substratum Mixed sediment of sandy mud, muddy sand with gravel pebbles and cobbles
Zone Circalittoral
Depth Band 10-20 m, 20-30 m
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 SS.SBR.PoR.SspiMx <I>Sabellaria spinulosa</I> on stable circalittoral mixed 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'
  • 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.

Description

The tube-building polychaete Sabellaria spinulosa at high abundances on mixed sediment. These species typically forms loose agglomerations of tubes forming a low lying matrix of sand, gravel, mud and tubes on the seabed. The infauna comprises typical sublittoral polychaete species such as Protodorvillea kefersteini, Pholoe synophthalmica, Harmothoe spp, Scoloplos armiger, Mediomastus fragilis, Lanice conchilega and cirratulids, together with the bivalve Abra alba, and tube building amphipods such as Ampelisca spp. The epifauna comprise a variety of bryozoans including Flustra foliacea, Alcyonidium diaphanum and Cellepora pumicosa, in addition to calcareous tubeworms, pycnogonids, hermit crabs and amphipods. The reefs formed by Sabellaria consolidate the sediment and allow the settlement of other species not found in adjacent habitats leading to a diverse community of epifaunal and infauna species. The development of such reefs is assisted by the settlement behaviour of larval Sabellaria which are known to selectively settle in areas of suitable sediment and particularly on existing Sabellaria tubes (Tait and Dipper, 1997; Wilson 1929). These reefs are particularly affected by dredging or trawling and in heavily dredged or disturbed areas an impoverished community may be left (e.g. Pkef) particularly if the activity or disturbance is prolonged. However, it is likely that reefs of S. spinulosa can recover quite quickly from short term or intermediate levels of disturbance as found by Vorberg (2000) in the case of disturbance from shrimp fisheries and recovery will be accelerated if some of the reef is left intact following disturbance as this will assist larval settlement of the species.

Situation

S. spinulosa reefs are often found in areas with quite high levels of natural sediment disturbance

Temporal variation

In some areas the reefs are periodically destroyed by storm events leading to a cyclical shift in biotopes from SspiMx to other biotopes e.g. Pkef or AalbNuc with re-establishment of the Sabellaria colonies in the following year.

Characterising Species

Taxon Relative importance of taxon for defining this community (%) Typical abundance - SACFOR scale % of core records where taxon was recorded
Halichondria panicea 2 Occasional 41-60 %
Dysidea fragilis 2 Occasional 41-60 %
Tubularia indivisa 2 Occasional 41-60 %
Hydrallmania falcata 4 Rare 61-80 %
Nemertesia antennina 1 Occasional 41-60 %
Urticina felina 4 Occasional 61-80 %
Nemertea 4 Common 61-80 %
Nematoda 1 Frequent 21-40 %
Harmothoe impar 3 Common 61-80 %
Pholoe synophthalmica 4 Frequent 41-60 %
Eteone longa 2 41-60 %
Eumida sanguinea 1 Abundant 21-40 %
Nereis longissima 2 41-60 %
Protodorvillea kefersteini 4 Frequent 61-80 %
Scoloplos armiger 3 Abundant 61-80 %
Minuspio cirrifera 1 Frequent 21-40 %
Aphelochaeta marioni 2 Common 41-60 %
Caulleriella zetlandica 4 Frequent 41-60 %
Chaetozone setosa 1 Abundant 21-40 %
Mediomastus fragilis 4 Common 41-60 %
Sabellaria spinulosa 27 Abundant 81-100 %
Sabellaria spinulosa 22 Common 81-100 %
Lanice conchilega 3 Common 41-60 %
Lanice conchilega 1 Occasional 21-40 %
Pomatoceros triqueter 4 Frequent 41-60 %
Balanus crenatus 5 Occasional 61-80 %
Ampelisca diadema 2 Common 41-60 %
Ampelisca spinipes 3 Frequent 41-60 %
Pagurus bernhardus 9 Frequent 81-100 %
Calliostoma zizyphinum 1 Rare 41-60 %
Buccinum undatum 3 Rare 61-80 %
Abra alba 4 Common 61-80 %
Alcyonidium diaphanum 6 Occasional 61-80 %
Flustra foliacea 16 Occasional 81-100 %
Cellepora pumicosa 2 Frequent 41-60 %
Asterias rubens 1 Occasional 21-40 %
Dendrodoa grossularia 2 Occasional 41-60 %

Similar biotopes

CR.MCR.CSab.Sspi
Sabellaria on rock often with more associated hard substratum species. On sediment Sabellaria changes the habitat

Biotope history

Classification Habitat code
97.06 CMX.SspiMx

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