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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.

   Glycera lapidum in impoverished infralittoral mobile gravel and sand

Physical habitat description

Salinity Full (30-35 ppt)
Wave exposure Very exposed, Exposed, Moderately exposed
Tidal streams Strong (3-6 kn), Moderately strong (1-3 kn)
Substratum Medium to coarse sand with some gravel
Zone Infralittoral
Depth Band 5-10 m, 10-20 m
Other Features

Biotope origin

Derived using data from Grab
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.SCS.ICS.Glap <I>Glycera lapidum</I> in impoverished infralittoral mobile gravel and 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'
  • 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.


In infralittoral mixed slightly gravelly sands on exposed open coasts impoverished communities characterised by the polychaete Glycera lapidum (agg.) may be found. Glycera lapidum is a species complex and as such some variability in identification may be found in the literature. It is also quite widespread and may occur in a variety of coarser sediments and is often present in other SCS biotopes. However, it is rarely considered a characteristic species and where this is the case it is normally due to the exclusion of other species. Consequently it is considered that habitats containing this biotope may be subject to continual or periodic sediment disturbance from wave action, which prevents the establishment of a more stable community. Other taxa include spionid polychaetes such as Spio martinensis and Spiophanes bombyx, Nephtys spp. and in some areas the bivalve Spisula elliptica. It is possible that SS.SCS.ICS.Glap it is not a true biotope, rather an impoverished, transitional community, which in more settled conditions develops into other more stable communities.


In many cases e.g. along the East Yorkshire coast this biotope is found in shallow inshore areas facing directly into the prevailing wind and subject to considerable wave action.

Temporal variation

Due to the variability in sediment regime at these habitats there may be high seasonal or spatial variability within this community.

Characterising species

Taxon Relative importance of taxon for defining this community (%) Typical abundance - (count per m2) % of core records where taxon was recorded
Glycera lapidum 51 36 81-100%
Spio martinensis 21 11 61-80%
Nemertea 8 21 41-60%
Nephtys cirrosa 7 7 41-60%
Spiophanes bombyx 3 12 21-40%
Ophelia 2 3 21-40%
Gastrosaccus spinifer 1 2 1-20%
Nephtys longosetosa 1 2 21-40%

Similar biotopes or habitat types

SS.SCS.ICS.Glap may a coarser extension of the mobile sand biotope SS.SSa.FiSa.IMoSa.

The current biotope may be an impoverished/sub-climactic version of SS.SCS.ICS.MoeVen.

The offshore biotope (SS.SCS.OCS.GlapThyAmy) is also characterised by Glycera lapidum but it is not known at this stage whether SS.SCS.ICS.Glap is a shallow extension of this much deeper biotope.

Classification history of this biotope or habitat type

Classification version Code Habitat name
2015 (15.03) SS.SCS.ICS.Glap Glycera lapidum in impoverished infralittoral mobile gravel and sand
2004 (04.05) SS.SCS.ICS.Glap Glycera lapidum in impoverished infralittoral mobile gravel and sand
1997 (97.06) Part of IMS.FaMS.SpiSpi Spio filicornis and Spiophanes bombyx in infralittoral clean or muddy sand

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