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Marine Habitat Classification

Description of biotope or habitat type

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   Nephtys cirrosa-dominated littoral fine sand

Physical habitat description

Salinity Full (30-35 ppt), Variable (18-35 ppt)
Wave exposure Moderately exposed, Sheltered, Very sheltered, Extremely sheltered
Tidal streams
Substratum medium to 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.FiSa.Po.Ncir <I>Nephtys cirrosa</I>-dominated littoral fine 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.


This biotope occurs mainly on the mid and lower shore on moderately wave-exposed and sheltered coasts, with medium to fine clean sand which remains damp throughout the tidal cycle and contains little organic matter. The sediment is not usually well sorted and may contain a fraction of coarse sand. It is often rippled and typically lacks an anoxic sub-surface layer. The polychaete infauna is dominated by Nephtys cirrosa, Magelona mirabilis, Spio martinensis, Spiophanes bombyx and Paraonis fulgens. The presence of polychaetes may be seen as coloured burrows running down from the surface of the sediment. Nemertean worms may be present. The amphipods Pontocrates spp. and Bathyporeia spp., as well as Cumopsis goodsir and the shrimp Crangon crangon are typically present. The bivalve Macomangulus tenuis is scarce or absent.


Po.Ncir may be present higher up on the shore than Po.Aten, or lower down than AmSco.Eur or Ol.FS.

Temporal variation

The infaunal community of this biotope may change seasonally, as increased storminess during winter months may reduce sediment stability and the ability of some species to survive. Some species, such as the shrimp C. crangon avoid these conditions by seasonal migration to deeper water (Moore, 1991).

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
Nephtys cirrosa 30 Common 79 81-100%
Magelona mirabilis 11 Frequent 206 61-80%
Cumopsis goodsir 9 Frequent 76 41-60%
Spio martinensis 9 Common 279 41-60%
Spiophanes bombyx 9 Frequent 55 61-80%
Nephtys 6 Common 73 41-60%
Pontocrates arenarius 4 36 61-80%
Bathyporeia elegans 2 Common 31 21-40%
Bathyporeia pelagica 2 48 21-40%
Crangon crangon 2 17 41-60%
Nemertea 2 10 41-60%
Paraonis fulgens 2 Common 16 21-40%
Macomangulus tenuis 1 6 21-40%
Bathyporeia sarsi 1 13 21-40%
Pontocrates altamarinus 1 16 21-40%

Similar biotopes or habitat types

Occurs in slightly finer sediments, which are more stable and therefore support bivalves, especially A. tenuis, in addition to a range of polychaete species.

Occurs higher on the shore. Nephtys spp. are scarce or absent, the infauna is dominated by P. fulgens.

Classification history of this biotope or habitat type

Classification version Code
1997 (97.06) LGS.AP.P (part)

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