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Marine Habitat Classification

Description of biotope or habitat type

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   Scolelepis spp. in littoral mobile sand

Physical habitat description

Salinity Full (30-35 ppt)
Wave exposure Exposed, Moderately exposed
Tidal streams
Substratum Coarse to very fine sand
Depth Band Lower shore, Mid 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.MoSa.AmSco.Sco <I>Scolelepis</I> spp. in littoral mobile 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.


Exposed and moderately exposed shores of fully marine mobile clean sand, with particle sizes ranging from coarse to very fine. The sediment is not always well sorted, and may contain a subsurface layer of gravel or shell debris. Usually no anoxic layer is present. The mobility of the sediment leads to a species-poor community, dominated by the polychaetes Scolelepis squamata and S. foliosa. The amphipod Bathyporeia pilosa may be present. Further species that may be present in this sub-biotope include the amphipods B. pelagica and Haustorius arenarius, and the isopod Eurydice pulchra. The lugworm Arenicola marina may also occur.


Situated mainly on the mid and lower shore, sometimes upper shore, of exposed to moderately exposed beaches. Under more exposed conditions, it may occur below AmSco.Eur, BarSa, or BarSh, and on the same shores as AmSco.Pon. Under more sheltered conditions, it may occur above the Po communities. Tal may be present on the same shores, where driftlines of wrack and other debris occur on the upper shore.

Temporal variation

Winter storms may reduce the number of or temporarily remove macroinvertebrates from exposed sandy beaches, with the sediment becoming re-colonised during the summer months.

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
Scolelepis foliosa 34 Abundant 101 41-60 %
Scolelepis squamata 51 Common 345 41-60 %
Bathyporeia pilosa 2 9 1-20 %

Similar biotopes or habitat types

Occurs under more exposed conditions, and/or higher up on the shore. The mobility of the sediment leads to the virtual absence of infauna.

Occurs under similar conditions, but generally higher up on the shore. The infauna is sparse, dominated by oligochaetes.

Occurs under slightly more sheltered conditions, leading to the presence of burrowing amphipod species as well as Scolelepis spp.

Occurs mainly on the lower shore, in more sheltered conditions. The infauna is significantly more diverse, characterised by a range of polychaete and amphipod species.


LS.LSA.MOSA.AmSco.Sco Scolelepis spp. in littoral mobile sand, Sand beach, Newbiggin Bay. Rohan Holt © JNCC
LS.LSA.MOSA.AmSco.Sco Scolelepis spp. in littoral mobile sand, Sand beach, Newbiggin Bay. Rohan Holt © JNCC

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