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Marine Habitat Classification


Description of biotope or habitat type

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   Macoma balthica and Arenicola marina in littoral muddy sand


Habitat (physical) description

Salinity Full (30-35 ppt)
Wave exposure Moderately exposed, Sheltered, Very sheltered, Extremely sheltered
Tidal streams
Substratum Fine sand or muddy sand
Zone
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.LSa.MuSa.MacAre <I>Macoma balthica</I> and <I>Arenicola marina</I> in littoral muddy sand

  • 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.

Description

Muddy sand or fine sand, often occurring as extensive intertidal flats both on open coasts and in marine inlets. The sediment is often compacted, with a rippled surface, areas of standing water, and generally remains water-saturated during low water. Scattered stones, cobbles and boulders with attached fucoids may be present. An anoxic layer is usually present within 5cm of the sediment surface and is often visible in worm casts. The habitat may be subject to variable salinity conditions in marine inlets. The species assemblage is characterised by the lugworm Arenicola marina and the Baltic tellin Macoma balthica. The polychaetes Scoloplos armiger and Pygospio elegans are typically superabundant and common, respectively. Oligochaetes, probably mainly Tubificoides benedii and T. pseudogaster, may be common, and the cockle Cerastoderma edule may be abundant.

Situation

MacAre has broad transition areas with CerPo and HedMac, which tends to occur lower down on the shore.

Temporal variation

Not known.

Characterising Species

Taxon Relative importance of taxon for defining this community (%) Typical abundance - SACFOR scale Typical abundance - (count per m2) % of core records where taxon was recorded
Scoloplos armiger 13 Super abundant 75 61-80 %
Pygospio elegans 4 Common 58 41-60 %
Arenicola marina 6 Common 24 81-100 %
Oligochaeta 4 Common 48 21-40 %
Cerastoderma edule 11 Abundant 116 41-60 %
Macoma balthica 61 Common 248 81-100 %

Similar biotopes

LS.LMu.MEst.HedMac
Occurs in muddier substrata. HedMac is characterised by abundant Ragworms H. diversicolor, as well as M. balthica. The cockle C. edule tends to be less abundant, and the sand gaper Mya arenaria may be abundant.

LS.LSa.MuSa.CerPo
Occurs lower down on the shore, sometimes in variable salinity conditions. The lugworm A. marina tends to be absent, but there is a greater range of crustacean species, and C. edule is more consistently present.

LS.LSa.MuSa.BatCare
Occurs in muddier sediments, in more estuarine conditions. The infauna is characterised by Bathyporeia pilosa and Corophium spp.

Biotope history

Classification Habitat code
96.7 LMS.AreBv
97.06 LMS.MS.MacAre

Photos

LS.LSA.MUSA.MacAre Macoma balthica and Arenicola marina in littoral muddy sand, Humber Estuary. Bill Sanderson © JNCC
LS.LSA.MUSA.MacAre Macoma balthica and Arenicola marina in littoral muddy sand, Humber Estuary. Bill Sanderson © JNCC
LS.LSA.MUSA.MacAre Macoma balthica and Arenicola marina in littoral muddy sand, NW Roanhead Farm, Duddon estuary. Roger Covey © JNCC
LS.LSA.MUSA.MacAre Macoma balthica and Arenicola marina in littoral muddy sand, NW Roanhead Farm, Duddon estuary. Roger Covey © JNCC
LS.LSA.MUSA.MacAre Macoma balthica and Arenicola marina in littoral muddy sand, Hoy Sound, Orkney. ANON © JNCC
LS.LSA.MUSA.MacAre Macoma balthica and Arenicola marina in littoral muddy sand, Hoy Sound, Orkney. ANON © JNCC

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