Skip to Content

Marine Habitat Classification


8 results for 'SS.SMp.Mrl'

   SS.SMp.Mrl.Lcor  Lithothamnion corallioides maerl beds on infralittoral muddy gravel

Live maerl beds in sheltered, silty conditions which are dominated by Lithothamnion corallioides with a variety of foliose and filamentous seaweeds. Live maerl is at least common but there may be noticeable amounts of dead maerl gravel and pebbles. Other species of maerl, such as Phymatolithon calcareum and Phymatolithon purpureum, may also occur as a less abundant component. Species of seaweed such as Dictyota dichotoma, Halarachnion ligulatum. and Ulva spp. are often present, although are not restricted to this biotope, whereas Dudresnaya verticillata tends not to occur on other types of maerl beds. The anemones Anemonia viridis and Cerianthus lloydii, the polychaetes Notomastus latericeus and Caulleriella alata, the isopod Janira maculosa and the bivalve Hiatella arctica are typically found in SS.SMp.Mrl.Lcor where as Echinus esculentus tends to occur more in other types of maerl. The seaweeds Saccharina latissima and Chorda filum may also be present in some habitats. SS.SMp.Mrl.Lcor has a south-western distribution in Britain and Ireland. Sheltered, stable, fully saline maerl beds in the north of Great Britain (where L. corallioides has not been confirmed to occur) may need to be described as an analogous biotope to SS.SMp.Mrl.Lcor (see SS.SMp.Mrl.Pcal).

   SS.SMp.Mrl.Lgla  Lithothamnion glaciale maerl beds in tide-swept variable salinity infralittoral gravel

Upper infralittoral tide-swept channels of coarse sediment in full or variable salinity conditions support distinctive beds of Lithothamnion glaciale maerl 'rhodoliths'. Phymatolithon calcareum may also be present as a more minor maerl component. Associated fauna and flora may include species found in other types of maerl beds (and elsewhere), e.g. Spirobranchus triqueter, Cerianthus lloydii, Sabella pavonina, Chaetopterus variopedatus, Lanice conchilega, Mya truncata, Plocamium cartilagineum and Phycodrys rubens. SS.SMp.Mrl.Lgla, however, also has a fauna that reflects the slightly reduced salinity conditions, e.g. Psammechinus miliaris is often present in high numbers along with other grazers such as chitons and Tectura spp. Hyas araneus, Ophiothrix fragilis, Ophiocomina nigra and the brown seaweed Dictyota dichotoma are also typically present at sites. In Scottish lagoons this biotope may show considerable variation but the community falls within the broad description defined here.

   SS.SMp.Mrl.Pcal  Phymatolithon calcareum maerl beds in infralittoral clean gravel or coarse sand

Maerl beds characterised by Phymatolithon calcareum in gravels and sands. Associated epiphytes may include algae such as Dictyota dichotoma, Halarachnion ligulatum, Metacallophyllis laciniata, Cryptopleura ramosa, Vertebrata byssoides and Plocamium cartilagineum. Algal species may be anchored to the maerl or to dead bivalve shells amongst the maerl. Polychaetes, such as Chaetopterus variopedatus, Lanice conchilega, Psamathe fusca, Mediomastus fragilis, Chone duneri, Metaphoxus fultoni, and Grania may be present. Gastropods such as Steromphala cineraria, Gibbula magus, Calyptraea chinensis, Dikoleps nitens and Onoba aculeus may also be present. Liocarcinus depurator and Liocarcinus corrugatus are often present, although they may be under-recorded; it would seem likely that robust infaunal bivalves such as Circomphalus casina, Mya truncata, Dosinia exoleta and other venerid bivalves are more widespread than available data currently suggests. It seems likely that stable wave-sheltered maerl beds with low currents may be separable from SS.SMp.Mrl.Pcal; having a generally thinner layer of maerl overlying a sandy/muddy substratum with a diverse cover of epiphytes (e.g. Bosence 1976; Blunden et al. 1977; 1981; Davies & Hall-Spencer 1996) but insufficient data currently exists on a national scale. Wave and current-exposed maerl beds, where thicker depths of maerl accumulate, frequently occur as waves and ridge/furrows arrangements (see Bosence 1976; Blunden et al. 1977; 1981; Irvine & Chamberlain 1994; Hall-Spencer 1995). At some sites where SS.SMp.Mrl.Pcal occurs, there may be significant patches of maerl gravel containing the rare burrowing anemone Halcampoides purpureus; this may be a separate biotope, but insufficient data exists at present. Northern maerl beds in the UK do not appear to contain L. corallioides but in south-west England and Ireland L. corallioides may occur to some extent in SS.SMp.Mrl.Pcal as well as SS.SMp.Mrl.Lcor, where it dominates.

   SS.SMp.Mrl.Lfas  Lithophyllum fasciculatum maerl beds on infralittoral mud

Shallow, sheltered infralittoral muddy plains with Lithophyllum fasciculatum maerl. This rarely recorded maerl species forms flattened masses or balls several centimetres in diameter (Irvine & Chamberlain 1994). Lfas may be found on mud and muddy gravel mixed with shell. Species of anemone typical of sheltered conditions may be found in association, for example, Anthopleura ballii, Cereus pedunculatus and Cylista undata. Polychaetes such as Myxicola infundibulum and terebellids, also characteristic of sheltered conditions, may be present as may hydroids such as Kirchenpaueria pinnata. Occasional Mimachlamys varia and Thyone fuscus are present in all records of this biotope and red seaweeds such as Plocamium cartilagineum, Calliblepharis jubata and Chylocladia verticillata are often present.

   SS.SMp.Mrl  Maerl beds

Beds of maerl in coarse clean sediments of gravels and clean sands, which occur either on the open coast or in tide-swept channels of marine inlets (the latter often stony). In fully marine conditions the dominant maerl is typically Phymatolithon calcareum (SS.SMp.Mrl.Pcal), whilst under variable salinity conditions in some sea lochs beds of Lithothamnion glaciale (SS.SMp.Mrl.Lgla) may develop.

   SS.SMp.Mrl.Pcal.R  Phymatolithon calcareum maerl beds with red seaweeds in shallow infralittoral clean gravel or coarse sand

Upper infralittoral maerl beds characterised by Phymatolithon calcareum in gravels and sand with a wide variety of associated red seaweeds. These algae typically include Dictyota dichotoma, Plocamium cartilagineum, Phycodrys rubens, Chondrus crispus, Halarachnion ligulatum, Chylocladia verticillata, Hypoglossum hypoglossoides and Nitophyllum punctum. These species are not restricted to maerl beds but their abundance on maerl beds differentiates this biotope from SS.SMp.Mrl.Pcal.Nmix. Anthozoans and echinoderms are much less common in this biotope than in SS.SMp.Mrl.Pcal.Nmix, which typically occurs deeper than SS.SMp.Mrl.Pcal.R.

   SS.SMp.Mrl.Pcal.Nmix  Phymatolithon calcareum maerl beds with Neopentadactyla mixta and other echinoderms in deeper infralittoral clean gravel or coarse sand

Lower infralittoral maerl beds characterised by Phymatolithon calcareum in gravels and sand with a variety of associated echinoderms. The echinoderm Neopentadactyla mixta is frequently observed in this biotope. Other echinoderms such as Echinus esculentus, Ophiura albida and rarely Luidia ciliaris may also be present. Red seaweed such as Plocamium cartilagineum may be present but at a much lower abundance than in SS.SMp.Mrl.Pcal.R and with fewer species present. Other, more ubiquitous echinoderms such as Asterias rubens may also be found in low numbers throughout SS.SMp.Mrl.Pcal biotopes.

   IR.MIR.KT.XKTX  Mixed kelp and red seaweeds on infralittoral boulders, cobbles and gravel in tidal rapids

Mixed substrata of boulders, cobbles, pebbles and gravel, typically found in tidal rapids with kelp Saccharina latissima and Laminaria hyperborea and red seaweeds. L. saccharina usually dominates this habitat although L. hyperborea may occur in equal abundance at some sites. The kelp in these tidal rapids does not form the same dense canopies associated with stable tide-swept bedrock, but generally occurs at lower abundance (Frequent). Other brown seaweeds occur in significant amounts in these tidal rapids including Dictyota dichotoma, Halidrys siliquosa and Chorda filum. These mixed substrata support a greater diversity of species than scoured bedrock narrows (XKT). In particular, there is an increase in red algal species such as Corallina officinalis, Bonnemaisonia hamifera and Ceramium nodulosum, although none occur in any great abundance. Red seaweeds common to both XKT and this biotope include Chondrus crispus, Delesseria sanguinea, Plocamium cartilagineum and Phycodrys rubens. Good examples of this biotope often have maerl gravel (Lithothamnion sp.) or rhodoliths between cobbles and boulders. Where maerl dominates, the biotope should be recorded as a maerl bed (SS.SMP.Mrl). The sponges associated with more stable, tide-swept conditions are generally absent, but the anthozoan Anemonia viridis might be present. Cobbles and pebbles are encrusted by the ubiquitous polychaete Spirobranchus triqueter and provide shelter for scavenging crabs such as Carcinus maenas and the hermit crab Pagurus bernhardus, gastropods such as Steromphala cineraria and echinoderms such as Echinus esculentus, Asterias rubens, Ophiocomina nigra and Ophiothrix fragilis which favour these sites of increased water movement. Additional infaunal species, inhabiting the sediment pockets, include Lanice conchilega and Sabella pavonina, which can be locally abundant.
Back to top