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Marine Habitat Classification


7 results for 'SS.SMu.IFiMu.Are'

   SS.SMu.IFiMu.Are  Arenicola marina in infralittoral mud

In very shallow, extremely sheltered, very soft muds Arenicola marina may form very conspicuous mounds and casts. This biotope may also contain synaptid holothurians such as Labidoplax media and Leptosynapta bergensis or L. inhaerens. However, these species may be under recorded (possibly due to periodicity in feeding) and are not considered characteristic of this biotope. Other conspicuous fauna may include Carcinus maenas, Asterias rubens and Pagurus bernhardus whilst the scallop Pecten maximus and the turret shell Turritellinella tricarinata may also be present in some areas.

   SS.SMu.IFiMu.PhiVir  Philine aperta and Virgularia mirabilis in soft stable infralittoral mud

Physically very stable muds, occasionally with small stones, with a high proportion of fine material (typically greater than 80 %) may contain the opisthobranch Philine aperta and the seapen Virgularia mirabilis. These muds typically occur in shallow water down to about 12-15 m where significant seasonal variation in temperature is presumed to occur. This habitat is restricted to the most sheltered basins in, for example, sea lochs. Although most records suggest full salinity conditions are prevalent, some sites may be subject to variable salinity. Philine aperta is the most characteristic species of this habitat, occurring in high densities at many sites, whilst Virgularia mirabilis, a species found more widely in muddy sediments, appears to reach its highest densities in this shallow mud but may not be present in all examples of this biotope. Other conspicuous species found in this shallow muddy habitat include Cerianthus lloydii, Pagurus bernhardus, Sagartiogeton spp. and Hydractinia echinata. Burrowing crustacean megafauna, characteristic of deeper mud, are rare or absent from this shallow sediment although Nephrops norvegicus may sometimes be recorded. This biotope has been primarily recorded on the basis of its epifauna and a few conspicuous infauna. Little data exists on the infaunal component of this biotope but it may include Nephtys spp., spionid polychaetes, Ampelisca spp. and the bivalves Nucula spp., Thyasira flexuosa, Kurtiella bidentata and Abra spp. In the south of Great Britain, the polychaete Sternaspis scutata is also characteristic of this biotope. This polychaete is rare in Great Britain (Sanderson 1996). Indeed, this southern variant of the biotope is very restricted in the UK to Portland Harbour but is known to occur further south in the Gulf of Gascony and the Mediterranean (Glemarec 1973; Dauvin et al. 1994).

   SS.SMu.IFiMu.Ocn  Ocnus planci aggregations on sheltered sublittoral muddy sediment

Dense aggregations of Ocnus planci on various substrata, typically muddy but occasionally with stones or shells, in sheltered conditions such as sea lochs. Philine aperta also characterises this biotope but is present in lower abundances than in SS.SMu.IFiMu.PhiVir. Other associated species vary but are typical of very sheltered muddy habitats and include the ophiuroids Ophiura spp. and Ophiothrix fragilis. Melanella alba, which parasitises holothurians, has been found in large numbers at one site.

   SS.SMu.IFiMu.Beg  Beggiatoa spp. on anoxic sublittoral mud

Sublittoral soft anoxic mud, often in areas with poor water exchange with the open sea, can have a conspicuous bacterial mat covering of Beggiatoa spp. The anoxia may be a result of natural conditions of poor water exchange in some sea lochs (and many Scandinavian fjords) or artificially under fish farm cages from nutrient enrichment. The fauna is normally impoverished at such sites, with few elements of the infaunal communities present in other muddy biotopes. Scavenging species such as Asterias rubens and Carcinus maenas are typically present where the habitat is not too anoxic along with occasional Arenicola marina but in extreme conditions of anoxia little survives other than the Beggiatoa. The polychaete Oxydromus flexuosus occurs in high densities at the interface between oxygenated and deoxygenated sediments (in Norwegian fjords).

   SS.SMu.IFiMu  Infralittoral fine mud

Shallow sublittoral muds, extending from the extreme lower shore to about 15-20 m depth in fully marine or near marine conditions, predominantly in extremely sheltered areas with very weak tidal currents. Such habitats are found in sea lochs and some rias and harbours. Populations of the lugworm Arenicola marina may be dense, with anemones, the opisthobranch Philine aperta and synaptid holothurians also characteristic in some areas. The extent of the oxidised layer may be shallow with some areas being periodically or permanently anoxic. In these areas bacterial mats may develop on the sediment surface. Infaunal records for this biotope complex are limited encompassing only one biotope. They are therefore not representative of the full suite of infaunal species found in this biotope.

   SS.SMu.IFiMu.CerAnit  Cerastoderma edule with Abra nitida in infralittoral mud

Sheltered shallow sublittoral muds and gravelly muds in marine embayments, inlets or harbours may contain populations of the edible cockle Cerastoderma edule with Abra nitida. Other taxa may include the gastropod Peringia ulvae, cirraltulid polychaetes such as Caulleriella spp. and other polychaetes including Hediste diversicolor and Aphelochaeta marioni. Available data for this biotope are limited to parts of Southampton Water, Chichester Harbour, and in the Wash. The species list given here may therefore be far from complete. It is not known at this stage whether this biotope is a sublittoral extension of intertidal cockle beds (e.g. LS.LSa.MuSa.CerPo) or whether it exists independently of intertidal populations of C. edule.

   SS.SMp.SSgr.Zmar  Zostera marina/angustifolia beds on lower shore or infralittoral clean or muddy sand

Expanses of clean or muddy fine sand and sandy mud in shallow water and on the lower shore (typically to about 5 m depth) can have dense stands of Zostera marina/angustifolia [Note: the taxonomic status of Z. angustifolia is currently under consideration]. In SS.Smp.SSgr.Zmar the community composition may be dominated by these Zostera species and therefore characterised by the associated biota. Other biota present can be closely related to that of areas of sediment not containing Zostera marina, for example, Saccharina latissima, Chorda filum and infaunal species such as Ensis spp. and Echinocardium cordatum (e.g. Bamber 1993). From the available data it would appear that a number of sub-biotopes may be found within this biotope dependant on the nature of the substratum and it should be noted that sparse beds of Zostera marina may be more readily characterised by their infaunal community. For example, coarse marine sands with seagrass have associated communities similar to SS.SCS.ICS.MoeVen, SS.SCS.ICS.SLan or SS.SCS.ICS.Glap whilst muddy sands may have infaunal populations related to SS.SSa.IMuSa.EcorEns, SS.SMu.IMuSa.AreISa and SS.SSa.IMuSa.FfabMag. Muddy examples of this biotope may show similarities to SS.SMu.ISaMu.CundAasp, SS.SMu.IFiMu.PhiVir, SS.SMu.IFiMu.Are or SS.SMu.CSaMu.AfilKurAnit. At present the data does not permit a detailed description of these sub-biotopes but it is likely that with further study the relationships between these assemblages will be clarified. Furthermore, whilst the Zostera biotope may be considered an epibiotic overlay of established sedimentary communities it is likely that the presence of Zostera will modify the underlying community to some extent. For example, beds of this biotope in the south-west of Britain may contain conspicuous and distinctive assemblages of Lusitanian fauna such as Laomedea angulata, Hippocampus spp. and Stauromedusae. In addition, it is known that seagrass beds play an important role in the trophic status of marine and estuarine waters, acting as an important conduit or sink for nutrients and consequently some examples of Zostera marina beds have markedly anoxic sediments associated with them.
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