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Marine Habitat Classification

Description of biotope or habitat type

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   Hediste diversicolor in littoral mud

Physical habitat description

Salinity Reduced (18-30ppt), Variable (18-35 ppt)
Wave exposure Extremely sheltered
Tidal streams
Substratum Sandy mud
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.LMu.UEst.Hed <I>Hediste diversicolor</I> in littoral mud

  • 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.


Mud and sandy mud shores in sheltered marine inlets and estuaries subject to variable or reduced salinity. The biotope is typically found on the mid and lower shores in the upper and mid estuary. If present on the upper shore, the sediment may become firm and compacted as water drains out, though usually the biotope occurs lower on the shore and the sediment remains water saturated during low tide. An anoxic layer occurs within the upper 5 cm of the sediment. The infauna is dominated by abundant or superabundant ragworms Hediste diversicolor. Other species that occur in a significant number of samples include oligochaetes such as Baltidrilus costatus and Tubificoides spp., polychaetes such as Streblospio shrubsolii and Manayunkia aestuarina, the mud shrimp Corophium volutator, and the spire shell Peringia ulvae.


Hed may occur on the same shores as HedMac, HedMacScr, or NhomAph. Higher up on the shore, and/or further towards the upper extreme of the estuary, Tben may occur.

Temporal variation

Enteromorpha spp. and Ulva lactuca may form mats on the surface of the sediment during the summer months, particularly in areas of freshwater influence and/or where there is nutrient enrichment.

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
Hediste diversicolor 45 Super abundant 1937 81-100%
Oligochaeta 12 Common 4100 41-60%
Corophium volutator 9 Common 2220 41-60%
Streblospio shrubsolii 8 Abundant 1510 41-60%
Tubificoides benedii 7 Abundant 2289 21-40%
Baltidrilus costatus 5 Abundant 2065 21-40%
Manayunkia aestuarina 3 Common 2247 41-60%
Peringia ulvae 1 Common 360 21-40%
Tubificoides pseudogaster 1 Common 506 1-20%

Similar biotopes or habitat types

Occurs on slightly more marine shores, in sediments with a smaller sand fraction, with a higher diversity of polychaete and oligochaete species. C. volutator is absent.

Occurs in similar physical environments. The infauna of this biotope is more diverse, most notably a range of bivalves occur, including the baltic tellin Macoma balthica, in addition to H. diversicolor and the occasionally abundant C. volutator.

Occurs in slightly muddier sediments and lower salinities, further towards the head of estuaries. The species assemblage is much poorer, consisting only of oligochaetes and, in some cases, Capitella capitata. H. diversicolor does not occur.

Occurs in similar physical environments. The infauna of this biotope is more diverse, characterised by a range of polychaetes including the ragworm H. diversicolor and a range of bivalves including the baltic tellin M. balthica and the peppery furrow shell Scrobicularia plana.

Classification history of this biotope or habitat type

Classification version Code
1997 (97.06) LMU.MU.HedOl
1997 (97.06) LMU.MU.HedStr (part)
1995 LMUD.HO (part)

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